Hideaki Kawashima, Cat, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 35.8 x 25.8 inches
The hallmark of Bergamot-Station-based Richard Heller Gallery is that virtually every piece on exhibit is usually small, colorful, and highly graphic – and highly evocative.
And, the show currently on view until June 14, “Turning” by Hideaki Kawashima, is a good example. The 42 year-old Japanese artist’s work initially seems little more than yet another contribution to the growing roster of Manga (Japanese comic book) inspired artwork. But, on closer inspection, a strange soulfulness pervades each of his fantasy portraits. Through some mysterious artifice, Kawashima’s hand transforms the cloying puppy-dog eyes (that are normally the trademark feature of cutsy-girl Manga) into windows of the soul. Perhaps that is because most of his obsessively pumped-out pieces seems to be a feminized self-portrait (see below) – an odd little piece of himself.
Hideaki Kawashima, Guy, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 31.6 x 25.7 inches
Hideaki Kawashima, Blue, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 13.2 x 13.2 inches
Hideaki Kaweshima Portrait courtesy of www.artloversnewyork.com
Margaret Nielsen, Passage, 2001, oil on board, 7 x 5 inches
Margaret Nielsen’s paintings and drawings fill the walls at Bergamot Station’s Samuel Freeman Gallery – a venue with somewhat of a new name, but with nearly seamless ties to the LA art scene and the gallery’s previous owner and namesake, Patricia Faure – who was a fixture in the LA art world since 1972. More like a museum retrospective than a gallery exhibition, the show includes work from as far back as 1972, the year Nielsen received her BFA from CalArts, and spans all the way up to the present time. I remember loving some of these paintings when I saw them the first time around.
Her work has a consistently quirky feel: a sort of feminine Twin-Peaks-era-David-Lynch-like sensibility that fuses an awe for nature and human experience with a sense of foreboding and mystery. While the earliest work on display is simply rendered with pen and ink, her work of the last 20 years often employs a bright, highly saturated, jewel-toned palette, the overall effect of which is to fill up the senses in a manner not unlike, well… a night in the forest.
Margaret Nielsen, Echo, 1989, oil on canvas 24 x 84 inches