“I deal with things like hard and soft, whether they’re organic or synthetic.”
– George Miyasaki
In his second solo exhibition at New York’s RYAN LEE Gallery, the Hawaii-born artist
George Miyasaki brings to us a visual dialogue that reflects not only the maturity of his
professional and creative work, but a more vivid scope of the stuff that became part of
the West Coast Abstract Expressionist movement in the Bay area and beyond.
The exhibition, Deep Space (1981-1989), consists of five paintings and two works on
paper – a very important decade where the artist, an expert printer and student to
Nathan Oliviera and Richard Diebenkorn, was maximizing the effect and use of paper to
its fullest potential in this mature period of his career. In the form of magnetic collages,
patterns and images, the work would certainly move the most latent of observers into a
world of wonderous colors, stark shapes and broad dimensions.
Miyasaki’s thoughts on art stemmed from the idea of random order within all things
natural and, as such, he used specific subjects, like the landscapes of Hawaii, California
and the American West, for inspiration. As he once said in an interview, “…if there’s
anything that influences me, my background, you know, you just have to go back to
the island (Hawaii)…”
Scope, serenity and tranquility permeates throughout each work. Vast color, linear
dimension, crisp geometry and stark boldness is forever present and uniquely executed
– all happening within a vibrant movement of constant change – actively moving each
work toward a new and different kind of visual experience.
One work, called Bigstone, 1989, is a serene and marine-like composition, with the
uplifting light and color of a Blue Period Picasso or a Diebenkorn. The background is
quite elaborate in its atmospheric presence; large patches in blue and white spreads
throughout the surface while the middle area builds up into a stark relief of roughness
and texture. A triangular pattern of blue and white diamonds, reminiscent of the Italian
commedia dell'arte Harlequin, centers quite prominently while its surroundings expands in upward movement – a kind of multidimensional array of inexplicable activity and calm elevation.
Another work, entitled Roughcreek, 1984-1985, continues with a design most
reflective of large paper cut-outs: a composition of dark blue and green with blotches of
blood red over white, a bright yellow seeping through the top right side, as if trying to
squeeze through a huge and barren stone, with sparse reflections of active
brushstrokes moving about. The green patches that appear is quite solid in its presence
and most stern in its appearance, though much different from the other shapes, which
are more active and engaging. The individual spaces contribute to the overall work –
actively moving about with intense force, as if the area was interchanging in color,
temperature, attitude and existence.
The exceptional work, Rose Bud, 1981, presumably named after the last word spoken
by Charles Kane in the 1941 film “Citizen Kane” or, like the other works in the exhibit, a
town pulled randomly from an atlas map, is eye catching and quite powerful; the large
shapes of white paper seem to take over and expand over hardly noticeable washes of
color, creating a continuous movement within the painting. Full of activity and
movement, the work seems to react most directly within each specific area, giving it
constant opportunity to flourish most vibrantly. The vibrancy in this work only gets
stronger as one views it from a distant or up close, both instances like reaching nirvana
within a trance.
Lastly the print, humorously entitled Gallop, 1982, presents a different kind of palette
execution which the colors are seen as somber and dark compared to the light and
airiness of the other works. The large squares and rectangles, executed in colors of
black, dark blues and grays, are pretty turbulent yet whimsical, like a well-studied
Rauschenberg print. The brushworks are most active but are contained in its own
spatial area, while the clear and crisp checkered image, so ever present, is quite at the
center of the viewer’s range.
Overall, the visual and intuitive connection in Miyasaki’s work is, for me, what makes
this unique show so intriguing – it is a personal kind of exhibition, one that drives the
viewer toward the importance of color, visualization and imagination, and the impetus
and drive that brought about these uniquely artistic elements to light.
The exhibition will be on view at RYAN LEE (515 West 26th Street in New York City) till
December 23 rd . The exhibition catalogue can be viewed at ryanleegallery.com/room/exhibition-catalogue-george-miyasaki-deep-space-1981-1989/.