top of page

Nobuo Sekine


"Phase of nothingness-skin"

24th June (Sat) - 15th July 2017 (Sat)

Hours: 12:00-19:00, closed Sunday, Monday, Tuesday

YOD Gallery is pleased to present "Phase of nothingness-skin," by Nobuo Sekine (b.1942), his second solo exhibition at YOD Gallery. Sekine is a central figure of “Mono-ha,” now internationally recognized Japanese artist group in the ‘60s.

One of Sekine’s earlier works “Phase—Mother Earth,” has become a monumental work to mark the beginning of “Mono-ha” movement. Since then, Sekine, now living in Los Angeles has been actively producing paintings and sculptures. Underlying theme in Sekine’s works is a concept of “topological space.” Through a series of paintings from 1978, titled, “Phase Conception,” the artist presented the idea of “painting” as “depthless membrane or surface film.” He considered all the paintings as one continuous spatial existence. Each painting becomes a mere “phase,” a cross-section of the whole. At this exhibition, Sekine presents his recent series of paintings "Phase of nothingness-skin." 

According to Sekine, “’Phase of nothingness’ indicates the state of the phase being open. That is, the phase is open widely and infinitely, free and unbound.” In the making of “Phase Conception” series, the paper is first damped, torn, scratched, cut and pasted. After drying, the paper is covered with gold or black lead leaves to capture accurately those actions performed. In "Phase of nothingness-skin," the artist uses canvas instead of paper. Though made in similar process, the canvas escapes the control of the artist, to bring the action of the artist and the material closer. In "Phase of nothingness-skin," therefore, each painting becomes a phase more flexible and elastic. This series not only lead the spatial recognition of the audience through vision to somatic sensation, to spiritual field, but to the field that is even more open and free. Please take this opportunity to see the new works of Nobuo Sekine in person at YOD gallery.

- Artist Statement -

Comments on the new painting series “Phase of nothingness-skin”

With little clues I started working on a new series of paintings “Phase of nothingness-skin”, and I am still in the process of trial-and-error. In the making, certain forms are drawn on 20mm thick plywood; cut with a jigsaw; wrapped with large pieces of canvas; stretched out as much as possible to be stapled onto frames. When the surface of a painting is covered with Liquitex and dried out, it shrinks slightly. Small creases disappear into large ones. The act of wrapping, just like skin, generates wrinkles and folds indicating the movements on the surface. In a strict sense, it generates the four-dimensional painting.

I titled this series as “Phase of nothingness-skin,” considering the paintings as flexible and elastic skin. I cannot question at this moment whether it speaks well of what I want to express through the paintings. Even if the intention is not perfectly carried through the work, I must keep making so as to develop and deepen the concept.

What do I mean by “certain forms” here? It is my past experiences and memories that let me choose certain forms to make paintings. However, I cannot clearly state the reason for the choice. I sketch forms habitually, but it is only few times I am aware of what I draw, and otherwise my mind together with the form disappear into ambiguity.

When the plywood forms are covered with canvas 30% larger than the wood frame, unexpectedly complicated wrinkles and folds appear. The canvas is like a skin enfolding the space. I must let the canvas be, for the forms of wrinkles and folds are hard to predict. In other words, I can only design the outline of the work, but for the rest, I cannot. The details such as the shapes appear on the surface, and the shades of wrinkles that follow are left to take their own course. The act of letting them be, is very interesting and extremely pleasant to me. It brings me to the state of oblivion.

In terms of Einstein’s theory of relativity, it is said that the stars in the outer space existing as masses. They warp the space, and their light beams curve. It is a well-known story that the astronomer Arthur Eddington’s observations of a solar eclipse have confirmed the Eistein’s theory. Again, as a scheme of nature, the stellar masses warp the space in the outer space. What if we consider the surface of a painting as infinite outer space then? Those stellar masses in outer space are brought into the painting space as certain forms. In other words, the forms generate wrinkles and folds, making the (painting) space warp.

They are beyond my control. However, what do you think if I say---I would be content if the acts happening in the making process itself could deliver the vividness and richness of the nature, and this is at the end, the lifelong theme of my art making? Further, it is Mono-ha and my wish that our act of making to become one with the nature. It is our ever-present theme. I use the title “Phase of nothingness” since early times. “Phase of nothingness” means a phase being open, widely and limitlessly, and of no constraint.

Looking back at the past, my art-making activity has started when I became aware of my main subject in contemporary art, which is to present a new spatial perception and interpretation. Since then, I have long been committed to topology, disregarding the well-known Euclidean geometry. It is easy to understand topology if you think of a space as a skin or membrane that is flexible and variable. It seems that there is always an idea of skin and membrane at the deep bottom of my inner senses. This new series of paintings “Phase of nothingness-skin” is coming from such historical theme of my own. 

1/18/2016 Nobuo Sekine

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram


bottom of page