Last Saturday night, the über art district of Culver City was bustling with art enthusiasts as multiple galleries premiered new exhibitions. It was Corey Helford on top of everyone’s list, however, due to the highly sought after works of relative newcomer Kazuki Takamatsu. Entitled ‘Japanese Ideology of Puberty’, Takamatsu's exhibit was embraced by a packed house from open to close--so packed, in fact, that I wasn’t able to fully concentrate on the featured paintings. Wanting to experience Takamatsu’s work with undivided attention, I visited the gallery alone during the week. Upon entering the quiet gallery space, I was struck by the powerful imagery of white figures set against stark black backgrounds. Closer examination revealed subjects designed with gradient levels of grey that awaken a catharsis of tonalities. These light and dark shadows fabricate hues of lavender and navy in various paintings, shades I never detected in the digital images I’ve seen of Takamatsu’s work. Another unexpected pleasure was the texture within each piece due to the artist’s graphics-digital-and painting-analog process. Again, a quality missed when viewing the digital image.
But Takamatsu’s latest body of work is more than just innovative technique. In each painting, he focuses on an emotional aspect of modern Japanese society, most notably the increasing rate of suicide among the younger generation. Elements of light and dark are not only expressed through color, but echoed through symbols of technology and tradition. In a modern culture fighting hard against feelings of dissatisfaction and turmoil, Takamatsu is giving today’s youth permission to not only own their pain, but to rise above it and discover the greatness in us all.
'Japanese Ideology of Puberty' runs until May 11th at CHG