Art New England
Bannister Gallery, Rhode Island College
Alicia Craig Faxon
The exhibition could have been titled East meets West, and West meets East. The first approach is embodied in the work of Keiji Shinohara, born in Osaka in 1955, who studied with a master of traditional Ukiyo-e woodblock technique and now lives and works in Boston. The opposite route is exemplified by Nancy Friese, who graduated from Berkeley and Yale before receiving a six-month National Endowment for the Arts grand to study in Japan. Both base their work on the traditional woodblock print technique known as Ukiyo-e-images of the floating world-and both reinterpret these techniques in postmodern language and images.
Nancy Friese's black-and-white wood and linocut prints are a more traditional representation of landscape. In Shrine, the chiseled areas on the woodblock become part of the representation of landscape. Ushimada employs a four-part horizontal format in black-and-white linocut to present four different types of landscape in a dream-world setting. These prints have a slightly hallucinatory feeling: the sky appears to be in motion, as in van Gogh's Starry Night. The triptych Tamabochimoe Evening is also very successful in contrasting types of landscape and in using the thrusting chisel marks to describe a flowing stream and meandering walks.
The achievement of both these artists resides in their translation of traditional techniques of the past into contemporary images and feelings. Theirs is a contemplative art full of subtlety.