Chie Fueki’s Fourth Exhibit At Shoshana Wayne Gallery Through May 25

Saturday, 13 Apr 2013, 8:24:00 AM

Special To The Mirror

Chie Fueki’s Fourth Exhibit At Shoshana Wayne Gallery.
Courtesy image
Chie Fueki’s Fourth Exhibit At Shoshana Wayne Gallery.

By Tom McGrath

Shoshana Wayne Gallery presents a solo exhibition of

Chie Fueki’s new paintings today, April 13 through May 25. This is

Fueki’s fourth show with the gallery. 

A cursory glance at Fueki’s new exhibition reveals an

artist known for her glam surfaces, outré fastidious rendering, decalcomania

cal motifs, and pop-folk iconography at her most visually superlative.

But don’t let Fueki’s characteristically seductive

optics camouflage their true content: a lingering gaze over Fueki’s exhibition

as a whole reveals something more peculiar woven throughout the counter-veiling

spectacle, a deeper enigma at the heart of what lies “all on the surface.”

A series of paintings on panels of relatively equal

dimensions surround the viewer lining the walls around the circumference of the

gallery. Each panel bears the likeness of the same woman, wearing the same hat,

facing the same direction in a circuit broken only by her symmetrically

mirrored image in a couple of calculated irregularities. The subject of Fueki's

portraits seems to fix her gaze elsewhere at the very insistence that she is

everywhere at once.

Fueki’s work has always dabbled in the elliptical

parallelism between high renaissance art, 80‘s scroll screen computer game

graphics, art nouveau naturalism, early modern orphism in painting and fashion,

Japanese folklore and Shinto animism; the rediscovery of the radical

psychedelic tropicalismo of her childhood spent in 70’s Brazil, and the flat

fixations of Anime culture. The complex curvature of her figuration seems to

combine the lyrical subtlety and baroque trajectory of Bezier curves, with

older forms of vector graphics and Euclidian geometries, analogously present in

non-albertian non-western representations of space such as the Edo period

woodblock prints or Hiroshige.

The surfaces in each painting are layered with painted

paper and collaged onto the surfaces, which are painted on again. The flower

motif repeated in several works are sometimes hand painted, sometimes silk

screen collaged. Fueki’s pattern and decoration is steeped in codes of feminism

and analogous reversals of normative identity roles through the optical

exchange of figure and ground, origin and motif. 

Fueki’s repetition and sequencing places her in a

dialogue within a certain pitting of seriality against the narrative sequence

of the image. Her repetition plays in the culture of the copy; where the

contradiction between the procedural and the intuitive is the narrative foil to

the larger questions of image ownership and dissemination; franchise remakes,

networks, new manners, friendships and social atomization. More importantly, as

a child of third culture experience, (having grown up in Brazil to Japanese

parents, relocating to New York in the 90’s), Fueki’s imagery is an issue of

both speculative identity and questionable ownership.

Assuming that Fueki’s portrait is an assemblage of

different identities and likenesses, how do we as viewers know from whence she

came? Certain clues refer back to Fueki’s stylistic synthesis of Tropicalia and

super flat aesthetics. The hat of Fueki’s protagonist bears uncanny resemblance

to that of a famous Brazilian pop singer, Nara Leão, on the cover of her album

“dez anos depois”, and on the cover of the classic Tropicalia record “Bread and

Circuses” (where she appears in a photo held by Caetano Veloso). She looks a

little like an Echo Park folkie, a little like Carmen Sandiego. But who is she


Each of Fueki’s serially similar canvases seems to

contain elements of a structural nature breaking through the dense

figure-grounding of pattern- literally, silhouettes of various flora transposed

through a dense network of grids and lattices. Fueki’s other botanical schema evoke the textile and wallpaper designs

of William Morris. But Fueki is no

anti-modern child of nature. As in her previous work, the natural is rendered

with such technical precision as to seem “technological” in a way that evokes

early 3-d modeling, computer graphics and isometric architectures leaping out

of their diagrammatic 2-dimensionality.

Like any work of art operation, we can assume that our

understanding of even the most pictorial and decorous image is one of

apophasis: what’s at stake is a combination of what elements are visibly

present, with those issues rendered conspicuously absent.  In other words, Chie Fueki’s paintings,

camouflaged in botanical tropicalia and diagrammed between perspectival

systems, aren’t about the glancing circuit of her mysterious protagonist, they

are about the eye of the beholder.

Shoshana Wayne Gallery is located at 2525 Michigan Ave.

B1 (Bergamot Station), Santa Monica.

For more information, call 310.453.7535 or visit

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