Exhibition: "Light and Time" at Base Gallery, Tokyo, JAPAN 2005

“It is precision that defines beauty.” ―    Diane Wakoski

Shigeno Ichimura’s paintings are created through a breathtakingly precise and transcendentally meditative process that, in the Silver Monochrome Paintings, evokes a sense of order, a universal structure, a lucid mind, and, in the Rust Paintings, elicits a sense of chaos, a progressive degeneration, an intuitive power. In other words, Ichimura, through his art, restates in his own unique and eloquent way, the existential dilemma. What is our place in the universe? Are we one―a whole vast smooth operation―or are we running amok―a pack of wild animals howling at the moon?

It is, perhaps, because of Ichimura’s background that he is able to express this dichotomy so profoundly. He was born in Okinawa, raised in Tokyo, and received a B.A. in Law from Dokkyo University in 1988. In 1989, his passion for art drove him from a Tokyo-based business career, with its inherent structure, to New York City where he sought the “freedom” to be an artist on his own terms. His first major body of paintings was titled Horizon. Each canvas was painted with ethereal washes of color with added texture of sand and stones. In these early works, Ichimura was strongly influenced by New York School painters such as Mark Rothko―especially the sublime beauty of Rothko’s fields of color―and Jackson Pollock―most notably the primal quality of Pollock’s sand and street debris textured paintings. What Ichimura established in the Horizon series was a visual language that that would be refined and amplified beginning in 1996 with the Silver Monochrome Paintings and in 1997 with the Rust Paintings.

Some of the more notable aspects of Ichimura’s visual vocabulary, that are so splendidly evident in the aforementioned bodies of work, include: a blend of precision and chance in his composition and his paint application; forms and surfaces that reference antiquity as well as the contemporary; a microcosmic/macrocosmic reference (units of dots and multiple canvases creating a “whole”); emphasis on the process of decay and regeneration; allusions to scientific principles (the atom as a building block, the physical process of seeing, light as the quintessence of the universe, time as a construct of reality); and faith in the artist’s ability to assemble and to communicate both the known and the intuited (as sublimely expressed in Ichimura’s painting World).



“To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.”         ―    William Blake

In discussing the origin of the Silver Monochrome Paintings, Ichimura states, “I am interested in what a person feels when looking at an object and the relationship of ‘one to one’ and ‘one to many.’” He uses the physical process of vision as a metaphor to express these concepts. To physically “see,” an image of an external object is put on the retina in a point-by-point fashion like the dots making images on a computer screen, the image is then transferred by the optic nerve to the brain―where the process of perception occurs. Ichimura uses a similar point-by-point process to create the paintings in the Silver Monochrome series. Each dot is meticulously applied to build a form, then the entire surface is coated with a metallic silver industrial paint―chosen for its highly reflective qualities. Ichimura’s stated goal is to symbolize through the use of the dots and the silver paint, “the wholeness of one and light.”

The compositions of the Silver Monochrome Paintings range from circular forms (Globe; Off Center; Reflection #3; Reflection #8) to industrial or organic patterns (Reflection; Reflection #7, Reflection #4, Reflection #2) to ambiguous fields that allude to the forces of nature (Mist #3; Light Field). The power of this body of works lies in its multiple readings. For example, one can see in these paintings an intricate mandala, the circumpolar stars, a mosaic floor, an ikat weaving, sea spray on a window, a neolithic rock carving, the interior of a honey comb, a starry night, a seismographic printout, a shimmering spider web, or the iris of an eye. The forms that can be created through the massing of dots are limited only by the artist’s hand and the viewer’s imagination.



“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”     ―     Henry Ward Beecher                       

The Rust Paintings are created in an entirely different manner from the Silver Monochrome Paintings. Each canvas is coated with an iron oxide mixture, then a medium called Instant Rust―sometimes, thin, other times thick―is applied to the canvas. It is a choreographed process, similar to that of Jackson Pollock,  dependent on the “moment,” and the delicacy or aggressiveness of Ichimura’s brush strokes. Ghostly images or forms are created through the thickness or thinness of the Instant Rust and the unpredictability of the corrosive process. Looking at the Rust Paintings is an open-ended experience, there are no conclusions, only sensations. Each painting is self-contained―a glimpse of a corroded iron drain underwater in a Roman ruin, or the surface of an oxide glazed tea bowl, or the underbelly of an abandoned car, or the turbulence in one’s heart. Massed together the Rust Paintings, are like a monumental chronicle, each painting a chapter in the history of humanity―a story of survival and transcendence.

Ichimura characterizes the Silver Monochrome Paintings as representing the outer self and the Rust Paintings the inner self. In so doing, he courageously portrays the angst of the individual who sees reflected in his own body the angst of the universe―a striving for order and a movement toward chaos. To create these paintings is an act of tremendous will that places Ichimura on the edge of a mythical horizon, feet firmly on warm and fertile earth, arms stretched towards a brilliant silvery moon.



Judith Page     July, 2005 Brooklyn, NY