Relatively new to the figurative sculpture scene, Kensuke Yamada’s 20-piece collection at Catherine Person Gallery (running through June 26 in the Pioneer District) features several wall mounted heads resembling masks and sculpture capturing human interaction and movement. Whether it be a girl astride her companion’s back in “Piggyback Ride” or two lovers rapt in beatific communion as their balloon shaped heads fuse together, the two-person configuration permeates Yamada’s work. Offering an explanation for this and for the title of the collection “I and Love and You,” Yamada writes: “Truth is somewhere between me and you. It is not too left, not too right…So I titled ‘I and Love and You’ because it is not about “I Love You”…something [in] between connects you and me.”
Gallery owner Catherine Person came across his work years ago when Yamada was making vessels. Both graduates of the Evergreen State College in Olympia, she was admittedly struck by his work even then; this collection is Yamada’s seventh showing at her gallery. Born in Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan, the 30 year-old artist recently completed his Master of Fine Arts in ceramic sculpture at the University of Montana, Missoula.
The artist’s first venture in creating wall-mounted heads shows playful, tongue-in-cheek visages as well as more pensive, serene countenances. Vibrant colors and textural details such as uneven surfaces permeate the overall effect of these pieces as “not too perfect” and relatable to the viewer. The work titled “Yellow Cheek, Pink Cheek” may seem more restrained with its muted color palette and symmetry in the facial construction—a deep incision demarcates the eyes. In contrast, “Rosy Cheek, Blue Lip” provides an interesting counterpart.
The use of texture and imperfect or incomplete parts such as the neck, ears or nose of the figures and heads reminds one of Yamada’s chosen medium: “I would say clay is [like a] living thing. It gets dry and dies. And we fire them to make [it] re-alive.” The viewer never loses the sense of this medium for which the artist professes a strong attachment. For more information, call (206) 763-5565 or visit www.catherineperson.com.
Kensuke Yamada “I and Love and You”. May 20 – June 26. Catherine Person Gallery, 319 Third Avenue S. Seattle. www.catherineperson.com.
The 26-piece collection entitled “Conversations” by Patty Warashina (running through June 12 at Howard House Gallery, 602 Second Avenue) features ceramic figures and paintings, often including elements found in nature: fish, birds, eggs and snakes. Such details serve as unifying in the artist’s conception—even the hair buns reflect the shape of the requisite animals. While the figures are stylized, possessing soft lines to the body and proportionately larger heads than the limbs and trunk, they are undeniably feminine in form. Warashina writes, “…my own body is the closest and most immediate topic from which to draw in terms of a psychological and physical subject matter.”
The color scheme of red, black and white dominates the collection. But touches of blue and contrasting matte and shiny glazes pepper some of her work. Body contours are suggested by geometric arcs and grid-like patterns. “Below Sea Level” includes black horizontal stripes on the figure that connote reflection patterns of water while a gyrating fish orbits the figure. This juxtaposition of the three- and two-dimensional planes serves as a key component of the artist’s voice, in her own words, “… giving illusion to two-independent spatial realities coinciding with one another.”
The paintings show a confident, but more playful voice with overtones of political and social commentary. The heroine of “Fly Swatter” wears a strapless red dress and emits lasers beams from her eyes; she holds a fly swatter while directing her gaze at submarine tanks. The effect seems whimsical, with a decidedly futuristic element. “Swinger” features a superheroine in a red catsuit and mask, suspended in motion. The viewer’s perspective is askew with the sun and buildings overturned in the periphery.
One senses a subtle power to her subject matter—that of women in close communion to the natural world who can fancifully strike down submarine tanks with a mere gaze. This power may personify a mystical kind of energy that the artist expands upon: “Through the use of the human body, I am able to observe societal concerns, the interaction of everyday life and its interwoven parts, sometimes in complex arrangements to show human energy. The body is an image that has given me reference to my own existence, as a marker of time, and the civilization in which I live.” Indeed, each work functions as a unique planetary system with specific gravitational pulls and velocities, surely something to be experienced by visiting the gallery rather than explained.
For more information, call (206) 256-6392 or visit www.howardhouse.net.
Patti Warashina “Conversations”. May 6 – June 12. Howard House, 602 Second Avenue, Seattle. www.howardhouse.net.