Sunday, June 16, 2019

Maeyama at Staple Goods; Sugiura at Ferrara

Once, while strolling through the French Quarter, an inebriated panhandler requested a handout with an unusual greeting: “Welcome to New Orleans, land of the living dark...” That stuck with me, and came to mind while viewing Kaori Maeyama's latest paintings at Staple Goods. A native of Japan based in Nola since 1994, Maeyama has long explored the inner magic of familiar nocturnal scenes like the stretch of elevated roadway seen in “Blue Highway II Blue Sky Blue.” Here what initially looks ordinary soon becomes otherworldly as the vast cobalt sky sets the dark urban grit into stark relief below streetlights glowing softly as fireflies.

In “Double Shotgun Double,” above, two old houses appear bathed in ambient light. Although outwardly ordinary, they come alive as we note the way the humid, below-sea-level atmosphere softens the patches of light as they dance across the ancient facades. Ditto the seemingly featureless side of an old shotgun house softly reflecting  multiple ambient light sources in “Primaries,” where hints of primary reds and blues ripple across the pale salmon clapboard siding. In this exhibition, Maeyama reveals the subtle visual secrets of “the city of the living dark.”
At Ferrara, Japanese painter Akihiko Sugiura explores a magical world of the fluid energy fields that he regards as the inner essence of what most of us see as the “real world.” In “Beard,” we see a guy who in peripheral vision might appear as an assertive redhead but up close becomes a demonic visage of red, green and flamboyant yellow slashes of color. “Two” depicts two girls sitting on a sofa. One's pose suggests she might be resting her feet on a footstool, but her lower legs are missing. Her ghostly pale partner gazes at her seemingly in mid-conversation, and in these works Sugiura depicts the fluid and ever-shifting spectrum of energies, physical and emotional, that he perceives just below the surface of ordinary, everyday life. ~Bookhardt / Subaquatic Homesick Blues: Paintings by Kaori Maeyama, Through July 7, Staple Goods, 1340 St. Roch Ave., 908-7331; Kyorai (去来): Coming And Going: Paintings by Akihiko Sugiura, Through July 15, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400A Julia St., 522-5471.