The eight artists featured in East Meets West: An Exhibition of Fine Art from Asia bring a unique amalgamation of Asian art history and personal experience to this extraordinary collection of contemporary fine art. Whether finding their artistic inspiration in classic Japanese literature, traditional Chinese calligraphy, Korean agricultural history, or even among some of the Western greats, these international artists each have found a unique and immersive style of expression. As a whole, the collection is visually dynamic and culturally fascinating.
With richly colored and evocative calligraphic paintings, Japanese artist Agameishi puts a modern spin on the ancient art of Kasen-e by depicting every scene from the oldest serial novel in the world, The Tale of Genji. As a licensed calligrapher, Agameishi paints each scene with a calligraphy brush, which she says gives her work a “tender and subtle” character. After each scene is completed, she finishes by writing each waka, or short poem, in a style of calligraphy called Kana, which Agameishi describes as “flowing like a stream of water, a fascinating cascading line that feels as if it were alive.”
To create truly authentic scenes of 11th-century Japan, Agameishi performed extensive research into the clothing, attitudes, and lifestyles of Japanese nobility during the time of the Tale of Genji. The works’ historical accuracy combined with Agameishi’s attention to line, masterful use of color, and focus on the emotional aspects of the story that make her works so compelling.
A sense of self is central to Hao Jing’s art, as she captures an intimate vision of the inner experience. From deep within Jing’s bold and expressive abstractions emerge suggestions of forms and figures, rendered with a powerful emotional poignancy. Often there is a fish motif present in Jing’s works, an image with deep significance in Chinese culture exploring life’s journey through emptiness and meaning. The artist works in acrylic paint on canvas with a broad, sweeping brushstroke, long drips, and a rapid, choppy mark, giving her paintings an appealing sense of freedom and spontaneity. With a blending of Eastern and Western influences, the works draw on the energy and movement of calligraphy and ink painting, while retaining the essence and action of their creation.
Born in Shanghai to an artistic family, Hao Jing received her BFA in Fine Art Education from Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts and studied at Dong Hua University. In addition to her career as a professional artist, she has also worked as an international fashion model with the Metropolitan Modeling Agency in Paris.
Influenced by Matisse, Picasso, and Mondor, by memories of the Neputa festival in Hirosaki city, and by the many primary colors he discovered in New York, Japanese artist Takashi Kogawa seeks the harmony of colors and lines. Most recently in religious art, he explores "the fusion of the line and color side," explains Kogawa. His abstract works in oil on canvas comprise an exuberant exhibition of human emotions. Through tightly delineated geometrics infused with a brilliant rainbow of colors, the artist creates constructs that draw the viewer in. Each piece invites the eye to explore images that are palpable, suggestive, and in some ways, spiritually uplifting.
One can clearly see the cubist influences of Picasso in each work. And there is certainly a mélange of color tones reminiscent of Matisse. Yet Kogawa adds a unique symmetry and balance to each painting as lines criss-cross, intersect and define elements to be studied. Religious inferences are subtle, interpretive and in some cases subliminal. Each work is clearly alive with meaning, as rich colors and intricate patterns remark on the artist’s creative state of mind.
Japanese artist Koya creates calligraphic compositions to celebrate her joy in living. “I want to express how wonderful life is,” she says. Koya was first introduced to Japanese calligraphy in 2004, and since then, she has been creating artwork based on this distinctive written form. She produces her works with sumi ink on white paper, and describes the process as “drawing” rather than “writing.” Koya says she uses the principles and materials of Japanese calligraphy as a base for her own pieces, and then expresses in her own way what lies behind each of the symbolic calligraphic characters.
Koya’s works are imbued with the emotion of daily life, and titles including “Dream” and “Soul” pointedly reference the artist's spiritual interests. These metaphysical suggestions pair well with Koya’s style of loose, painterly brushstrokes, which are largely non-representational. As a result, viewers are encouraged to focus on the bold, visual qualities of Koya’s works. Shifts in hue endow each image with a scintillating range of interpretive possibilities, and viewers are taken on both a visual and spiritual journey. Born in Tokyo, Koya currently lives and works in Kanagawa, Japan.
One of Michael Lam’s earliest influences came from a Chinese herbal medicine book he saw as a child, its hand-illustrated manuscripts becoming a template for the images he now makes. Those works take the basics of calligraphy and transform them into compositions that mix graphic simplicity with open-ended forms. The bold strokes he uses to construct each painting have an air of freshness and spontaneity to them, but they are also the result of a meticulous process of thought and preparation. “Everything must be right the very first time,” he says. “I have to understand the properties of paper, ink and brush well before starting.”
Working in ink on board as well as paper, the artist lets the varying textures that ink can provide, from feathery wisps to liquid pools of color, come vividly across. That variety gives each painting a depth and sense of movement that contribute to their surprising dramatic power. “I hope my viewers can connect with the emotion contained in each one,” he notes, and their energy and style ensure that connection.
Lam has received awards and recognition for his work in NYC and Florence, and recently used his work to support the Aeiou Foundation for children.
For MIKIKO, painting is a way of bringing “beautiful memories” to life. “I draw pictures,” she says, “by opening doors of these memories one by one.” That sense of memory and reflection finds expression in the air of quietness that pervades her compositions. In many of them, women are posed with their heads turned at slightly unusual angles, their eyes closed and their faces showing a dreamlike self-possession. We see them against fields of color in which the play of light and shadow creates a feeling of depth that lets her subjects float in a space that seems to cradle them.
Working in oils on canvas, the artist makes bold expressive use of the rich colors that oils provide. The blue of a sky or a red background will be subtly reflected in the skin or hair of the subject. But these effects are not jarring. Rather, they reaffirm the feeling of harmony that inspires MIKIKO’s works. “I do not draw sorrows or pains,” she notes, and her pictures glow with the happiness that she aims to represent.
The work of South Korean artist Su-Jeong NAM is an exploration of numerous detailed and delicate lines, drawn layer by layer until they form grasses or leaves. She isn't simply drawing landscapes, however, but using lines to describe the essential harmony she sees in nature and the universe. Starting with dry pigments, the artist first colors her paper, then begins drawing. Gradually, the forms of flower petals, stamens, pistils and leaf veins emerge.
From a young age, Su-Jeong NAM's weak eyesight forced her to train herself to view objects in a different way. Now, instead of looking at a flower and seeing a flower, she sees the lines that make up the flower — not just the outline or the lines that might be visible on the surface, but lines down to the cellular level. It’s this description of the innumerable lines that make up our world, and yet which most people can't see, that makes this work unique. The artist, who received her BFA from the Busan National University in South Korea, says she hopes her paintings give people a feeling of optimism through her canvases' bright, fresh color and form.
Inspired by the teachings of Buddhism, Taoism, and psychology, Japanese artist Shoji Suzuki creates art that moves beyond design to a place of deeper contemplation. By actively immersing himself into his sweeping arcs of pigment, Suzuki discovers an introspective peace in the process of repetition. For Suzuki, art becomes a tool with which to center himself with the universe: each line becoming a meditative visual mantra to empty his mind of thought. Suzuki builds his works in acrylic on paper and mixed media, hand drawing each shape over and over to reveal a dynamic abstraction in the resulting hypnotic composition.
Born in Nagoya-City, Japan, Suzuki studied painting at Tokyo Zoukei University and was a winner of the Tokyo prize at the First Tokyo Liquitex Biennale Exhibition. In addition to his career as a professional artist exhibiting throughout Japan, Suzuki recently presided over Atelier Adieu, a small school of painting and drawing for children.