Masako Kamiya (Painting Fellow ’10) is an artist with tremendous patience, skill and vision. With a steady hand, she meticulously builds her paintings one stroke at a time until the clusters of pigment transform into a physical object that vibrates, pulsates and trips around the color wheel.
Working on an open space of an untreated white paper has intrigued me. Because there are not defined borders on a paper, mark-makings themselves defined a final shape of a painting. I build up dots of color into half-inch, stalactite-like columns with rich variations in color layers. From a distance the painting is a series of dots, which create larger patterns toward a uniformed center. When observed more closely the third dimension is revealed, a forest of multicolored columns. The surface is dense. Colors on the flat surface of the paper react with the colors on the surface of each stalk when perceived closely.
I also leave areas unpainted. I found leaving areas unpainted very challenging. It requires much more rigorous looking because I have to achieve a balance between painted areas and unpainted areas. Once I painted, unpainted area is not retrievable. It almost feels like plain air painting with watercolor or calligraphy. It requires more intense concentration.
I challenge the way a painting is conventionally perceived. The sculptural surface moves viewers across the field of the painting. This forces the viewer’s eyes to mix and optically process the various properties of color. Ultimately, the viewers experience the subtle metamorphosis of the color in the paintings as the painting shifts from two dimensions to three dimensions and back again, according to the viewer’s angle to and distance from the work.
Painting to me, is a speculative and negotiable activity. It has become even more critical to the way I make art and serve as a counterpoint to my experience of seeing in today’s world; visual stimulation is more fast-moving and superficial with the advent of the high speed Internet and digital technology. Our perception matters more than ever to my painting. Virtual world of the Internet is saturated with visual information. There is almost no image we cannot find on the digital screen. And this puts hand-made painting in a unique place and viewing painting becomes a particular perceptive experience. Therefore, my objective is to make painting that emphasizes active looking. I need to make a painting that encourages slow and timeless perception and demands viewers’ engagement and scrutiny.
To see more of Masako’s work, be sure to check out the group exhibition New and recent work by 13 Massachusetts Cultural Council Award Recipients in Painting and Drawing. It runs June 2 – July 31, 2011 at the Tufts University Art Gallery.
Image credit: All paintings by Masako Kamiya. From top to bottom: Blue Fairy, 2010, 30″ x 22″, Gouache on paper; Recollections, 2010, 30″ x 22″, Gouache on paper; Wisteria’s Window, 2010, diptych each on 20″ x 16″ paper, Gouache on paper. Photographs by Clements/Howcroft Photography.