Richard Whitten and Emi Ozawa
August 27 - September 28
Artists' Reception September 6
photos by Alyssa Wood of Isa Images
Dedee Shattuck Gallery is pleased to present Richard Whitten and Emi Ozawa. This exhibit pairs two established artists who explore playfulness through their work. The exhibit opens on August 27th and closes on September 28th, with the artists’ reception on Saturday, September 6th from 5-7pm.
Richard Whitten’s paintings are considered sculptures by some viewers. He paints illusions of space so effectively that they appear as though they are alternate realities. He paints on heavy wooden boards, constructed and cut into shapes, which reference motifs reminiscent of Dutch triptychs yet are also modern departures from rectangular formats. The architectural spaces and objects in his works create a sense of disorientation and mystery. A common motif in Whitten’s work is the cycle: orbiting planets, spinning gears, cats chasing mice, or zeppelins floating around an axis. The compositions are saturated with allegorical references and allusions. Each work is a complex composition both visually and conceptually, derived from Whitten’s own years of study, travel, and teaching.
Emi Ozawa’s impeccably constructed painted wood works are beautiful and curiously playful. She is known for creating surprising kinetic works, such as boxes with swinging lids and sculptures that transform as certain elements are moved. For this exhibition, Ozawa introduces a new body of wall-based works. These pieces experiment with color theory, using a technique where two sides of an angled piece of wood are painted differently, so that as the viewer moves through the space the images appears to change. Emi combines a delicate minimalist sensibility with a playful sense of form and color, and an immaculate mastery of craft and construction.
Whitten and Ozawa use their technical aptitude, unique creative style, and imagination to create works that celebrate playfulness, humor, and intricate craftsmanship.
Richard Whitten and Emi Ozawa
Wednesday August 27th – Sunday September 28th
Artists’ Reception Saturday, September 6th from 5:00 -7:00 p.m.
Gallery Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 10-5pm, Sunday 12-5pm
Richard Whitten earned a B.A. in Economics from Yale University and an M.F.A. in Painting from the University of California at Davis where he studied with both Wayne Thiebaud and Robert Arneson. He has had numerous exhibitions on both coasts. Notable are major solo exhibitions at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, Washington, and The Newport Art Museum in Newport, Rhode Island. He is presently an Associate Professor of Painting at Rhode Island College. Visit website here.
One recurring theme I have in my dreams deals with the discovery of hidden beautiful architectural spaces. In these dreams, I see unknown buildings or hidden passages from building to building. In the dream, I make efforts to get to them and explore them. Sometimes, I can explore them in the same dream. Sometimes, I find them again in another dream—years later. My paintings imply the existence of places and of objects of desire that, like the garden in Alice in Wonderland, can be glimpsed but not reached or acquired. It was once suggested to me that my paintings looked like they were painted from memory. This suggests that the imagination is, perhaps, memory in reverse. I am curious about the nature of the conceptual transformation that occurs when places and things are represented as an image. They seem to become heightened in importance – perhaps transformed into an ideal, a memory, or a desire. One must ask: is the experience of “seeing and wanting” superior to “having”?
Born in Tokyo, Japan. She learned graphic design at Joshibi University of Art and Design in Tokyo. She came to US in 1986 to attend The University of the Arts in Philadelphia where she started learning woodworking. She received MFA from Furniture Design Program at RISD. She maintained her studio in New Bedford and then Fall River until her moving in 2009. Providence was her home for 20 years. She has exhibited widely in the United States, in both galleries and museums. She currently lives and works in Albuquerque, NM with her husband. Her works are also represented by Richard Levy Gallery, Albuquerque, NM.
Play is always the central interest in my work. I create pieces with geometric forms, bright in color and movement. I like wood as my choice of material, and fondly remember colorful wood blocks in my childhood. The feel and the look of distressed wooden surfaces, with worn out edges & corners implies a certain degree of use and the touch of the hand, maybe a certain degree of love. I learned furniture design and wood working at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and the Rhode Island School of Design. My intent with these studies was to apply that knowledge and skill to make sculptural works that were strong enough for the viewers to touch. I did this for over twenty years, making painted wood objects for viewers to look at, but also ones they could move and activate.
Since 2011, I have been pushing my work towards a two-dimensional format, focusing on color and surface. My current works have qualities of both painting and sculpture. The ‘canvases’ are carefully aligned square wood bars place corner to corner and ordered in a square or rectangular plane. They are not intended to be touched, but there is a play in the work. This play is the changing view for the viewers, as they move from one side of the work to the other (right to left or left to right).
“Windows in Blue”, 2014, was an opportunity for me to work on a larger scale for your gallery. The colors of blue are very soothing to me . Blue reminds me of the ocean, the sky and water. With my move to Albuquerque, many things for me have changed. The ocean was always not far from where I lived. I grew up in Tokyo, Japan and lived many years in Providence, RI. Although I miss the ocean from time to time, I enjoy the big blue sky in southwest. My relation to water and rain has also changed. Each time I see rain in New Mexico it brings me joy & hope. Without wanting to be too literal, this work makes me contemplate all this. Whatever a viewer’s relation to blue, I hope they can see something soothing or fond for them through the windows.
photos of work by Margot Geist
For more information about Richard Whitten and Emi Ozawa, to arrange an interview with Dedee Shattuck or with the artists, or to obtain additional publicity images, please contact Isabel Mattia at email@example.com
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