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Makoto OFUNE: Principle
Written by Satoshi KOGANEZAWA   
Published: May 01 2009

     Materiality and embodiment. These are keywords appropriate for the exhibition and the spatial composition of the Makoto Ofune solo-exhibition, "Principle", at gallery neutron from February 17, 2009 to March 1, 2009.

fig. 1 "VOID Ψ” (2009); mineral paints, pigments, Japanese paper Φ260cm Photo by Nobutada OMOTE (neutron), copy right(c) Makoto OFUNE / Courtesy of gallery neutron

fig. 2 from Exhibition "Makoto OFUNE, Principle" at gallery neutron Photo by Nobutada OMOTE (neutron), copy right(c) Makoto OFUNE / Courtesy of gallery neutron

fig. 3 from Exhibition "Makoto Ofune, Principle" at gallery neutron Photo by Nobutada OMOTE (neutron), copy right(c) Makoto OFUNE / Courtesy of gallery neutron

fig. 4 from Exhibition "Makoto Ofune, Principle" at gallery neutron Photo by Nobutada OMOTE (neutron), copy right(c) Makoto OFUNE / Courtesy of gallery neutron

     However, it is not right to judge him as an artist who represents the embodiment of "drawing" in artworks, in the same way Jackson Pollock represents action painting. The embodiment does not mean the traces of the struggle between the artist and the canvas fixed on the surface, but the body of the viewers as I will describe later. The materiality means his artworks are only expressed as "material" which emerges when the action of "drawing" and the subject as an artist disappears. The materiality does not mean the intensive brushstrokes found in action painting as I mentioned above (most of his recent artworks are modest at first glance), and is different from "raw natural object/substance (hereinafter called MONO, which means “thing”). It comes onto the stage of artistic expression as a leading character, not an element to withdraw some kind of artistic language directly from the state and function of MONO" (by Toshiaki Minemura [Note 1]) as we can find in artists belonging to the MONO school. Ofune does not present "raw natural object/substance" as a leading character. He has intention; however, the intention seems concealed under the surface. I am reluctant to describe his artworks as "Japanese-style painting" or "painting" or just "plane surface". In fact, the half circle artwork titled "VOID Ψ" (mineral pigment, colorant/Japanese paper, Φ260cm, 2009) weighing over 60kg, drew our attention by its acrobatic exposition. The edge was nailed into the wall, and the artwork appeared to be floating, with a feeling of massiveness, and it was thus appropriate to call it "cubic" rather than "flat" [fig. 1].

     So I feel compelled to say this: Ofune’s artworks are not "paintings" but only "substances" created by the subject named Makoto Ofune, but the traces of him as an artist are kept confidential. His presence is so subtle that it is easy for us, the viewers, to naturally enter into the exhibition space. You should not confuse the space in which we eventually arrive with the fictitious space of a painting; in fact it the real space of the present. Of course the artworks undeniably exist there, and have enough visual-depth to allow us to enter the world unfolded in them. However, the artworks exist just as an intermediary to connect viewers and the real world, and his intention seems to be to shake the physical senses of the viewers in the exhibition place. The more abstract and the less specific the intermediary becomes, the easier it is to play the role. It is clear that his subject for drawing is not a specific image but "nowhere".

     Ofune is an outstanding artist with spatial composition capability. "WAVE #75" (mineral pigment, colorant/Japanese paper 70cm x 116cm in 2009) exhibited on the right hand side of the above "VOID Ψ" was the only framed artwork in the exhibition. Without the black frame a size larger than the artwork, the space would have been extremely monotonous. [fig.2] Looking away from these two big pieces, we found three small pieces hung on the upper wall. [fig. 3] And this was not the end. Two artworks were exhibited in the cafe next to the gallery. Every time an artwork was found it expanded the existing space. [fig. 4]

     We got the feeling our bodies are sinking to the bottom of the sea or dissolving into the darkness by looking into the dark colored canvas common to all the seven artworks. Guided by eyesight, in the comparatively poorly illuminated space, we obtained a body sense in addition to eyesight. In his last solo-exhibition entitled "Prism" (from January 10, 2009 to February 1, 2009) at neutron Tokyo, many artworks were exhibited on the premise of white and blue, which reminded us of uncertainty and refraction of the light, as suggested by the title. The composed space was certainly beautiful and comfortable; however, its impression was completely opposite to that of "Principle", which is deep darkness. How do we deal with the liberated body? That must be the only question his silent artworks pose to us.

"What was the MONO school?” by Toshiaki Minemura, "MONO School" exhibition catalogue, Kamakura Gallery in 1986

Related Exhibition

"Makoto Ofune: Principle"
17/Feb/2009 - 01/Mar/2009
Venue: gallery neutron

Last Updated on September 14 2010

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