'Untitled" by Tomaharu Murakami

Tomoharu Murakami @ Kayne Griffin Corcoran

November 23, 2017

(Through January 18th 2018)


In this exhibition, Tomoharu Murakami introduces us most noticeably with bleakness. When we ask ourselves what is the meaning of bleak, we can connote a dimness; but there’s more. It is connected to our conception of what will become in the future, but in an assertively negative light. A dim hopefulness, then, is the closest we can describe the word. That the future is destined to arrive, but not as how we planned and therefore are aiming to will it to be.


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It takes a serious level of artistry to enable an audience to contemplate on the concept, by audaciously throwing a blackness onto a canvas and not even having the courtesy to title it. And yet, because it lives so far removed from the vociferous abstract expressionism movements circa the mid-twentieth century, it is rejuvenating to take this work for the Rorschach test that it is. Clearly though, the open-endedness has limits, but the only discernible one is the association of color with the human condition.


But is it even possible to make such a correspondence? Is this unadulterated perception feasible in delivering humanity something meaningful? To think at the absurdity of a doppelgänger work hung in an elementary school! It may not be treated as pensively, yet still there would be a pluck, a pull, a spiritual bow upon the soul that gazes into its deepness.


The pull would be sorrowful, undoubtedly. And isn’t it a fascination that the absence of light, i.e. black, gives us this emotional symbolism? Why, when we speak of a better world, it always involves vivacity and warmth? Almost self-evidently, light is a symbol for life, and its absence is the mark of lifelessness. Maybe not death per se, as the cosmos are beautiful; but only because the dark cosmic soup is stirred with myriads of champagne supernovas in the sky.


We return then to the pondering of what may be the bleakest of bleak for a human existence? the paeans for liberty historically inculcate within us a dread for what is diametric: slavery. Bondage. Entrapment of what we may possibly will. For in such an existence our will power is not directly in our control. But what may be worse still is a will with no happy ending. A chapter which ends tragically regardless of how many different ways the story is told.


The coarse texture of the piece may indicate the harshness of the moral. Of the friction associated with the resistance of a movement toward one’s ends. A secondary layer, it is, of bleakness, which actualizes a physical, tactile significance to hopelessness. And yet the piece does not depress. Indeed, it elevates one’s self-awareness of the internal struggle latent to the human condition and its contingent free agency. Yes, it is a tragic work, but it uplifts with its gentle invitation to look into its mirror. What aims has the audience missed in their personal narratives? The answer may be as infinitely deep as the darkness exhibited.



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