Olivier Malingue is pleased to present the second solo exhibition in the UK of Japanese artist Makoto Ofune.
The exhibition presents Ofune's most recent body of work, produced over the last three years, continuing three main series in his practice: Void, Wave and Reflection Field.
The works on view combine traditional Japanese painting techniques with an abstract vocabulary, revealing the artist's quest for eternity and harmony. By creating an atmosphere that invites meditation and awareness, Ofune invites the viewer to consider his works as elements able to transcend their status of objects and project multiple and different spatial dimensions.
In Ofune's richly textured works, layers of powdered mineral pigments known as iwa enogu are applied to Japanese hemp paper with nikawa, an animal gelatin glue. These stones are crushed by hand to a fine powder, and the resulting pigments enhance the vibrancy and depth of the original raw materials. These techniques are usually seen in nihon-ga (traditional Japanese painting), but Ofune uses these jewel-toned pigments in a contemporary manner, creating atmospheric pieces that are both meditative and timeless.
In the Reflection Field series, Ofune focuses his attention on raw materials: roughly cut pieces of crystal, rhyolite, basalt and cinnabar. He coats the cut surfaces of these stones with powdered mineral pigments including gold powder and leaf, blurring the lines between the natural element and his creative process. These stones are presented to the viewer as if they were artefacts, yet by applying the crushed pigments in shades of deep blue and bright white, they are elevated from their coarse, natural state, becoming refined and almost otherworldly.
Ofune's exploration of Japanese tradition and culture is not only confined to his technical knowledge. The Wave series consist of lightness and movement, with tones ranging from cool silvery greys to bright dappled blues. Exploring transient modes of existence and ethereal elements, his works appear connected to the metamorphic flow of the human state and the natural world: the seasons, light, weather and time.
Heavily influenced by spirituality, but without a connection to any particular religion, Ofune seeks to "connect with the infinite" through his practice, placing his works in sites of cultural and spiritual significance. This has been seen in his Void series, where large-scale circular pieces have been installed at shrines and in churches. By acknowledging this harmony between his artworks and spirituality, he bridges the gap between the tangible and the intangible.
Ofune's exhibition plays with opposing themes: the physical and the spiritual, darkness and light, movement and stillness. However his true mastery lies not only in his technical skill, but also in the "textural atmosphere" he creates, which encourages the viewer to find harmony and wholeness.
Born in Osaka in 1977, Makoto Ofune graduated in 2000 from Kyoto University of Education with a major in Japanese painting. In 2016 he was awarded the Fellowship of Overseas Study Programme for Artists by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Public collections include: Chateau La Coste, Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, Four Seasons Hotel, Kyoto, The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, Park Axis Premier, Tokyo, St Regis Hotels, Osaka.