Art Review: Playful, Stunning Albuquerque Artist Emi Ozawa Exhibit

Albuquerque artist Emi Ozawa’s ‘Follow the Line’ wooden sculpture and installation of works on paper at the Richard Levy Gallery is a wonderful incorporation of impeccably executed technique with dynamically correct lighting in a stunning gallery space compatible with the architecture.

“Follow the Line” is a 20-piece exhibit that beautifully combines art history, playfulness, constructivism, minimalism, and museum-quality craftsmanship. Ozawa designed this combination of elements to challenge the eye and mind of the beholder.

His wall sculptures rely on the cast shadows of a stationary light source to animate the constructs, which transform from two-dimensional to three-dimensional as the viewer moves around while witnessing their dissolution and their reconstruction.

These furniture-grade shade-dependent constructed forms are reminiscent of the painted steel sculpture of Argentinian artist Robert Janz, a member of the Rhinehart School of Sculpture, who painted his abstract compositions to match the color of the exterior wall on which they were painted. were mounted.

As the sun moved across the sky, the patterned and ever-changing shadows became the only elements visible on the seemingly blank wall. Janz worked at Rhinehart from 1963 to 1965.

Ozawa’s painted wood and paper constructions were created during his artist residency in Roswell in 2016-2017. His zigzag wall designs also share a conceptual kinship with Pablo Picasso’s early Cubist studies. To represent a water glass, Picasso drew a circle surrounded by two vertical lines with a straight line across the bottom. In Ozawa’s wall hangings and cast shadows, she offers the motionless viewer three views at once. The direct two-dimensional view with the shadows revealing the three-dimensional form as well as the actual structure, a step beyond Picasso.

Ozawa constructed two geometric bas-relief murals titled “Amidakuji” and “Kaki to Yuzu” that resemble Piet Mondrian’s late paintings. Ozawa based his linear compositions on a Japanese children’s lottery game in which participants follow the chosen line of color through the abstract maze-like composition.

Early in his life, Mondrian taught primary education in the Netherlands. To learn plane and solid geometry, each child received a kit consisting of a checkered desk and a set of colored geometric shapes. Each year, the child would receive a more complex kit. In works such as Mondrian’s 1942 painting “Broadway Boogie Woogie” he revealed his advanced understanding of geometric design as part of Dutch elementary education.

The geometric tulip beds and greenhouse structures occupying the plains behind the Dutch dykes are also at work in Mondrian’s imagination.

In 2015, I noticed a dimensional wavy painting titled “Peach” by Ozawa in a group show of 10 artists at the Richard Levy Gallery. I was impressed by the stunning and careful execution, as well as the beautiful palette. I compared his piece to the wavy works of Israeli artist Yaacov Agam.

Ozawa conceptually revisits “Peach” in several fruit-colored and weather-related works in this show. In “Rain” and “Rain on Rain”, Ozawa undulates surfaces while limiting his palette to blue, warm gray and white. Both paintings communicate the exciting visual experience of water falling from the sky while remaining with clean, unadorned geometric shapes.

“Yabane Daidai” by Emi Ozawa plays with constructivist, minimalist and cubist concepts in his solo exhibition “Follow the Line” at the Richard Levy Gallery.

An aggressive wall piece titled “Yabane Daidai” by Ozawa translates to “Arrow Feather Orange” consists of three zigzag elements made of poplar and painted with orange acrylic. The excellent craftsmanship of all of her work stems at least in part from her studies in furniture design and construction at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and the Rhode Island School of Design, where she received a Masters in Fine Arts.

His perfectly made paper constructions are even more impressive due to his total control over tiny elements that don’t forgive any clumsy behavior. It’s a smart exhibition brilliantly executed by a talented artist. Don’t miss it.