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HIRO ICHIKAWA Paintings from a Trail

October 6 - 21, 2018


Hiro Ichikawa M A R C H

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J A N U A R Y

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Mountains and Rivers Without End P A I N T I N G S

F R O M

OPENING RECEPTION

SATURDAY, OCTOBER •

2:00-4:00 PM

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T R A I L

6 , 2018

Scenic Hudson’s River Center at Long Dock Park 8 Long Dock Road, Beacon, NY 12508 845.838.6235 ON VIEW

OCTOBER

6-21 , 2018

Saturday & Sunday

12:00-5:00 PM

SCENICHUDSON.ORG DESIGN: SUSANNA RONNER GRAPHIC DESIGN • SUSANNARONNER.COM

CURATED BY ELENI SMOLEN, THEOGANZ STUDIO


“Oil color painted directly on wooden panels, watercolor on paper, and spit-bite etchings – these works are my interpretation of traditional Japanese Shan Shui paintings. Literally translated, Shan Shui means mountain and water, but in Japanese art, Shan Shui represents the creation of an imaginary landscape that doesn’t exist in the physical realm. The painting itself becomes a landscape with elements extracted from nature instead of rendering what you see. Shan Shui can be traced to the tenth century in China, but its current simplified look comes from Zen Buddhism in Japan during the fifteenth century. Small dots are applied by small brushes, one by one, to build tones and shapes. Oil paintings are integrated with the wood grain of the birch panels that I use as the support. Often I get inspired from the shapes in the wood grain. When I work with watercolor, I enjoy the way the paper absorbs the ink dot by dot, almost like having a conversation with the grain of the paper. Having lived in the Hudson Valley for many years, the influence of the strong presence of mountains and rivers became an integral part of my paintings. Even though my works are not straight depictions of the landscape we see around us, I try to transform the essence of nature into my pictorial space like traditional Shan Shui painters did.”

Hiro Ichikawa Thoughts from a Studio


Hiro at Breakneck Ridge

Photo by Kei Tsujimura


Property 2010 oil on wood panel 11 7/8 x 16 inches


Apparition 2014 oil on wood panel 15 x 23 3/4 inches


Variant 2010 oil on wood panel 11 7/8 x 16 inches


Transition in White 2008 oil on wood panel 11 7/8 x 11 7/8 inches


Coulee 2008 oil on wood panel 18 1/2 x 18 1/2 inches


Contour 2011 Watercolor on Kiryu paper 16 5/8 x 17 3/4 inches


Current 2012 Watercolor on kumohada paper 17 3/4 x 13 inches


Anthony Coneski, Scenic Hudson recalls Hiro joining their volunteer program in 2008 and states: “Hiro had a passion for the Hudson Highlands, with a special fondness for Fishkill Ridge. He patrolled the ridge and Mount Beacon weekly, removing countless bags of trash, guiding lost hikers, maintaining trails and adding blazes. Without a doubt, he was Scenic Hudson’s best set of ‘eyes and ears’ on these trails.”


Hiro, Mount Beacon

October 2010


Passing Rain 2001 Oil on wood panel 16 x 32 inches


Rumination 2011 Watercolor on Kiryu paper 16 5/8 x 17 3/4 inches


Launch 2014 Oil on wood panel 36 x 70 inches


Two Trails “It’s very interesting to list similarities between Beacon, a town I live in, and Kiryu, located in the central part of Japan, the town where I grew up. Both have histories of prosperous manufacturing. Kiryu is well-known for its Kimono manufacturing industry and flourished when everyone wore them in Japan. Beacon also produced fine silk hats and thrived when they were in fashion. Both towns preserve old structures that echo the heyday of old times. One of these old structures in Beacon has been converted into a contemporary art museum. Featuring a substantial collection of contemporary art and the natural light from saw-tooth roof of an old cookie factory, the museum brings lots of visitors from faraway. The distance from the metropolitan area is very similar as well. Both cities are just an hour and a half away from big cities (i.e., Tokyo; NYC). When I first visited Beacon, it very much reminded me of Kiryu. All those mountains in both cities possess many hiking trails, and most popular trails for both cities – Mount Azuma for Kiryu and Mount Beacon for Beacon – are again, very similar. Both trails take about thirty minutes to reach the first view points and are loved by many local hikers. It was nice to run into an old friend at Mount Azuma Trail today. I see some familiar faces in Mt. Beacon too. It’s a lot of fun to be able to enjoy both mountains even though they stand so far apart.” Hiro Ichikawa Thoughts from a Studio


Kiryu, Japan

Photograph by Hiro Ichikawa


Stroll No. 4, 2008 Oil on wood 9 1/4 x 9 1/4 inches


Intimation 2009 Oil on wood panel 23 x 3/4 x 12 inches


Condensation 2013 Oil on wood panel 23 3/4 x 11 1/2 inches


Phase 2010 Oil on wood panel 23 1/2 x 11 7/8 inches


Compound 2013 Oil on wood panel 23 3/4 x 11 1/2 inches


In-between “The more I place dots on a surface of a painting, an awareness of the area in-between those dots increases. In a way, those unpainted areas between painted marks are shaping the picture and letting me know where to paint next. It helps to pay more attention to those unpainted areas when the support of a painting is wood because of the patterns of the grain. And the appearance of a grain pattern changes as those dots are added. I enjoy this interaction of my marks and the lines of wood grain which are already there. It reminds me of the Japanese word, Ma. Its literal translation is “in-between.” It holds both spatial and temporal senses. And it bears significant meaning in many traditional Japanese art forms. Those spaces between rocks in rock gardens are as important as the rocks themselves. A little pause between words in poems is also called Ma. A space between two dueling Samurais with their swords is Ma and reading it correctly results in an outcome of life or death. This space, in-between, to me, is as important as everything else.”


Torrent 2012 Oil on wood panel 14 5/8 x 23 7/8 inches


Senses 2005 Oil on wood panel 23 3/4 x 12 1/8 inches


Compass 2012 Oil on wood panel 19 3/8 x 46 3/4 inches 


Progression 2013 Oil on wood panel 11 1/2 x 23 3/4 inches


Aisle 2015 Oil on wood panels 25 x 9 inches


Greeting 2012 Oil on wood panel 23 3/4 x 24 inches


Passage When you dream while you are sleeping it is considered an unconscious state. When you try to capture what goes on in that unconscious state with your conscious mind, the contents of the unconsciousness get altered. It would no longer be unconscious. Whatever goes on in your unconscious state, it’s still part of your activity. But you have no control over it. We spend one third of our life sleeping, away from our conscious mind. It’s a big part of our life and it must affect the conscious side as well. Sometimes, I feel painting is a passage between those two very different states. Somehow, the simple act of repeatedly adding dots seems to let the unconscious state slip into my conscious mind while I’m still awake. In the pictorial space, colors and forms could exist by themselves without any explanation or reasoning – if you can somehow let them be. Hiro Ichikawa Thoughts From a Studio


Hiro Ichikawa at the opening of his solo exhibition, In-between, at TheoGanz Studio, Beacon, New York, December 13, 2014. Behind him is his painting, Sprites, a diptych. Photograph by Eleni Smolen.


Hiro Ichikawa was born on March 23, 1959 in Osaka, Japan and grew up in Kiryu, north of Tokyo, where his father was a designer of wedding kimonos. Growing up in this environment, surrounded by mountains and rivers which he described as very similar to the “feel” of Beacon, the artist was greatly influenced not only by the natural world but also by the rich colors, patterns and textures of the silk textiles. He had many childhood memories relating to this – the sound of the weaving machines, the sight of textiles being rinsed in the river and then dried in the sun, the large industrial buildings – now being occupied by artists – and the trails and hikes through the mountains. He studied painting and drawing at Suidobata Art Academy from 1977 – 1979 and in 1980 moved to the United States where he attended Pratt Institute, graduating in 1984 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. After many years in Brooklyn, Hiro and his wife, Laura Currier, and their son, Kento, moved to Beacon in 2006. He showed his paintings locally, initially with RiverWinds Gallery and later, TheoGanz Studio where, besides being in many group shows, his last solo show, In-Between, (December 13, 2014 - January 15, 2015/http://theoganzstudio.com/hiroichikawa.html) included oil paintings and his delicately rendered etchings. (Another scheduled solo show in 2017 at TheoGanz Studio had to be cancelled after the artist became ill). A master printmaker, Hiro curated the gallery’s Prints Without Pixels exhibition. On a volunteer basis, he oversaw the Printmaking Club at Garrison Art Center on Sunday afternoons and also occasionally taught etching there as well. A well-loved member of the Beacon art community and a tireless volunteer for several organizations over the years both in Beacon and Brooklyn – Beacon Open Studios, Garrison Art Center’s Printmaking Club, Scenic Hudson, Little League, Soccer Coach – Hiro was very generous with his time and energy when he wasn’t in his own studio or at his job. Hiro returned to Kiryu every summer to show his latest paintings with the Mogi Gallery. He also showed with Gallery Marya in Osaka on an annual basis. Represented by the Woodward Gallery in Manhattan, his work was included in many exhibitions throughout the tri-state region. In addition to his oil paintings, watercolors and etchings, Hiro also completed a commission in Japan for a Buddhist Temple’s Fusuma paintings (Japanese-style sliding doors). This helped him more fully explore the idea of Shan-Sui, the “creation of an imaginary or idealized landscape that doesn’t exist in the physical realm.” Working on kumohada paper – a mixture of linen and kozo tree fibers, Hiro described the texture as “cloud-like” and feels it contributed to the ethereal qualities of the panels. The theme of the sixteen panels was the life of Prince Shotoku who was a high-ranking political figure in 7th Century Japan. The Prince was credited to bringing Buddhism to Japan and helping it become an official religion at the time. Hiro traveled to those areas where the Prince once lived and he studied the landscape; he thought “the way these mountains look now must be the same as in the Prince’s time hundreds of years ago.” Photographs of the Fusuma Paintings can be found in his blog, Thoughts from A Studio, users.rcn.com/yukey/ Celebrating a life steeped in art and nature, Mountains and Rivers Without End / Paintings from a Trail includes some 30 abstract paintings, mostly oil on wood panel and all meticulously framed by the artist himself. Each work conveys the organic, dreamlike qualities and delicate brushwork for which the artist became so well-known over the years. Eleni Smolen TheoGanz Studio October 2018


Hiro on Mount Beacon

March 2010


Acknowledgements Many thanks to Anthony Coneski and Scenic Hudson for their generosity and help in hosting and presenting this exhibition at Scenic Hudson’s River Center at Long Dark Park, Beacon, New York and for their comments about Hiro as a volunteer over the years. We could not have dreamed up a more fitting location than River Center for this artist whose life and work were so steeped in the outdoors. Many thanks to Laura Currier, of course, for giving me the great pleasure of curating this exhibition and for her tireless help in searching Hiro’s database for paintings and photographs and compiling the list of paintings for the exhibition and for so many other things as well. This little catalogue would not have been possible without her and I am so grateful not only for her help but also for her friendship. All photographs of Hiro by Kei Tsjuimura unless otherwise noted. All photographs of the paintings and artwork Copyright © Hiro Ichikawa All quotes from the blog, Thoughts from a Studio, Copyright © Hiro Ichikawa. Exhibition poster by Susanna Ronner Graphic Design Catalogue printing by Grey Printing, Cold Spring, New York Eleni Smolen October 2018

Copyright © 2018 by Eleni Smolen


Profile for TheoGanz Studio

Hiro Ichikawa  

Paintings from a Trail October 6 - 21, 2018 Curated by Eleni Smolen, TheoGanz Studio at Scenic Hudson's River Center, Beacon, New York

Hiro Ichikawa  

Paintings from a Trail October 6 - 21, 2018 Curated by Eleni Smolen, TheoGanz Studio at Scenic Hudson's River Center, Beacon, New York

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