Examiner Contributor

Intaglio Artist, Seiko Tachibana
Exhibition: Jan. 6 – 28
Davidson Galleries
313 Occidental Ave S.

For contemporary print artist, Seiko Tachibana, leaving her home in Japan to explore new vistas brought her back to what she had taken for granted with a new appreciation. Born in 1964 and raised in Osaka, she attended Kobe University, first receiving a bachelor’s degree in education, then a master’s in art education. In 1993 she left Japan to study at San Francisco Art Institute, where she received her master’s in fine arts degree two years later with an emphasis on printmaking. Continuing to work in intaglio, a medium with a Western heritage, she infuses her work with a distinctively Japanese minimalist aesthetic, something she learned to appreciate only after studying and living in the United States.

Intaglio, itself, is a complex multi-staged printmaking process. In the basic process, the artist draws on an acid resistant ground or coating on a copper plate. The plate is then dipped in nitric acid so that the exposed lines or areas of the plate are bitten away by the acid. The plate is cleaned so that the lines created by the acid can receive ink. Ink is applied, and the excess is wiped away. The inked plate is covered with a damp sheet of paper. Both are run through an etching press, the pressure of which forces the paper into the lines containing ink. The result is a permanent print, the appearance of which is unique to intaglio.

Tachibana uses the intaglio medium to express her minimalist-inspired exploration into the circle, the elemental form to which her studies in DNA and Zen Buddhism have led her. She also cites minimalist artists Agnes Martin and Brice Marden as inspirational influences.

Her series of intaglio monoprints exhibited at the Davidson Galleries is a creative journey to define visual complexity in terms of elemental spacial relationships.

Because her artistic visions are prolific and varied, Tachibana has titled her works in terms of numbered series. In her “Inside – insight – out” series, Tachibana depicts forms within forms and seems to be searching for the types of elemental relationships that make for life’s variety. In “Inside – insight – out #3,” green and gray transparent elliptical forms, some in groups, float against a light background grid of crosshatched lines. In “Inside – insight – out #5,” three touching ellipses are enclosed in a net of dots connected by curved lines.

In the Origin series, small black circles and dots and the random yet precise placement of orange-red. White circles form conglomerates of new and bigger forms, suggesting the formation of life at the atomic level. In “Origin #43,” the dots and circles form a shape, cut off at the bottom that looks like it is opening up to new life. Circles, lines and connective relationships are further studied in Tachibana’s “Field of Origin” series, with the addition of dense black fields with soft edges that seem either pregnant with possibilities or that project emptiness, or nothingness of Zen.

Throughout her work Tachibana’s Japanese minimalist sensibilities are revealed in her asymmetrical, yet balanced compositions of the elemental forms she has chosen to represent life’s mysterious complexity. It is the placement of these forms, their size, and color that evokes a sense of floating, quiet movement and even a sense of play. In “Formation5,” a single black ellipse hovers above an olive green angular shape on a lightly striped background. Perhaps this a new formation created from the relationships depicted in the “Field of Origin” series.

Modern in representation and titling, Tachibana’s visually simple yet quietly stunning compositions invite contemplation.

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