Art of Japan, artists of color, Edenic painting, folk art, James McClung, Kate Oh Gallery, Kyp, Kyp Malone, lace glassware, Mughal, Redlands artist, Sara Japanese Pottery, self-taught, Ushio Konishi, Utopic painting
Thursday is often a day when galleries on the Upper East Side choose to bloom. I was heading to the Kate Oh Gallery at 50 East 72nd Street, 3a – but on the way I came upon a glass treasurehouse at Sara Japanese Pottery (950 Lexington Ave), served with a delicious Saki. Here was the work of Ushio Konishi – justly famous for his delicate laced glassware. Trained near the Cape, then in Venice, Konishi produces incredibly delicate, finely tuned pieces. Indeed, there in the store buying up a storm, was a Fifth Avenue lady beautifully outfitted – fitting for such a splendid setting. (Dressing up for the Madison Avenue boutiques is definitely an UES thing to do.)
At Kate’s gallery the title of the exhibition, “Two Horizons”, was immediately apparent: the show features work of Kyp Malone and James McClung – two artists who are literally worlds apart. McClung is definitely a Redlands California artist whose mixed use of technique keeps your eye inside the painting – always the artist’s greatest hope, and greatest challenge. And there trying to choose which one she liked the most was my new acquaintance from the glass show.
Kyp Malone is a figurative painter whose paintings explore mythic, spiritual and psychedelic themes. Inspired by Mughal painting traditions in India, his work is populated by black and brown peoples and is often utopic, Eden-like. “I’m working towards something like a black fantastic [the quote of the evening!]. The conspicuous absence of people of color, or worse, their being relegated to caricature or background in the fantasy side of the western imagination troubled me. So I started painting what I wanted to see.” May we see more artists like Kyp and more galleries such as Kate’s – exploring not just the best, but the most advanced territories in the art world.
It is not surprising that Malone also works as a musician and video director in NYC. His work makes you want to dance – and his figures never seem to sit still. This tradition-smashing show recalls the recent opening at the Met Museum of “History Refused to Die” – the Met’s refusal to relegate art by brown, black and yellow artists – hell, artists of any color, including rainbow – as “self-taught” or “folk art”. Too long have museums -stereotyped artists of color as artists “informed only by experience rather than training”. The Met, by starting to put the work of contemporary artists of color smack dab into its Modern Art galleries, has welcomed this long-lost fountain of human creativity back into the Art Family as a whole. Welcome back, Kyp. May we all benefit from your visionary work.