Hiroka Yamashita at Tanya Leighton


These are landscapes that beguile with more than just the visuals. You feeling the wind or the bodyweight of the fog. You really feel the coldness of the slipping snow on your skin or the warmth of the hearth. The functions of Hiroka Yamashita search for to seize what, strictly talking, eludes the eye: the impermanence and inconstancy of mother nature and the myriad nuances of humankind’s attachment to it. The title of this exhibition, “Fūdo,” is a Japanese phrase that means “wind” or “earth” and can refer to the climate but also applies to cultural traditions, including medieval royal authorized codes. More pointedly, it is a quotation of the title of a 1935 e-book in which the Japanese philosopher Tetsuro Watsuji probes the manifold ties that bind humans to the pure environment and the influence the atmosphere can have on one’s character.

Executed in oil on canvas, Yamashita’s paintings scrutinize this relationship with unmatched sensitivity and tenderness, incorporating elements from each traditional Japanese portray and Western artwork. Willow and Figures close to a Fire, 2021, presents a lyrical instance, foregrounding a foggy landscape with a sweep of hanging willow branches. To the appropriate of the composition, a number of figures huddle all over a hearth, whose smoke cuts a diagonal swatch across the canvas. As a single appears to be like much more closely, the figures appear to be to have developed alongside one another with the trees and branches encompassing them. In Moonrise (Route 2), 2021, a hazy moon shimmers by a a bit overcast sky. In the base center of the image is the disembodied torso of a legless figure whose head would seem to dissolve into the clouds. But who merges into whom: the confront into the clouds, or the clouds into the facial area?

Translated from German by Gerrit Jackson.


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