Two early spring shows at the Eugene Galleries in March are worth seeing downtown.
It’s just serendipity that the exhibition about to open at Eugene’s White Lotus Gallery focuses on people’s faces – much like Oregon allows people to unmask themselves in public.
At least that’s what gallery owner Hue Ping Lin says. Capacity: an appreciation, which opens on Friday, March 11 and ends on April 23. The show focuses on images of human faces. “Well, we just wanted to see the facial expressions after so long,” she said. “So, faces!
The Oregon Mask’s tenure expires on March 12, as if perfectly coordinated with the gallery’s exhibit. “You must have an incredible attraction to the governor’s office,” joked one reporter. “Do you need a favor?” responds gallerist Jennifer Huang.
The exhibition, which includes 35 works, is drawn largely from the gallery’s permanent collection of Asian prints, drawings and paintings, but also includes works by Oregon artists such as Mike Van and Yuji. Hiratsuka, who exhibit regularly at the White Lotus.
In Paul Jacoulet’s 1941 woodcut “Chinese Players. (The Chinese Gamblers),” the line art is as delicate and graceful as if drawn by hand with a fine-point pen. I can’t imagine carving wood with such care and precision – one slip and the line is gone.
A Frenchman who lived most of his life in Japan, Jacoulet was one of the few Westerners to have worked successfully in the Japanese style, creating works heavily influenced by the classical style. ukiyo e tradition from the 17th to 19th centuries, which depicted life in the slightly mischievous “floating world” populated by characters ranging from actors and beautiful courtesans to sumo wrestlers.
Chinese Players shows a pair of players, their – unmasked! – faces focused intensely on the dice on the ground between them.
Other works in the exhibition are more contemporary and more heavily influenced by European art. The bold and expressive lines of “Chinese Milkvetch”, a small woodcut of a woman’s face made in 1981 by Iwao Akiyama (1921-2014), show the indirect influence of Vincent Van Gogh, whose paintings had inspired the Akiyama’s teacher, Shikō Munakata, to become an artist. .
Meanwhile, across the street at the Karin Clarke Gallery, an exhibition opened earlier this month featuring works by two living Northwestern artists, Humberto Gonzalez and Hart James.
Gonzalez, who lives in Portland, is a gallery regular with lush outdoor watercolors of the Northwest landscape. Gonzalez uses intense colors that draw your gaze across the room, making the work almost psychedelic as you walk through the front door, even though the images are firmly grounded in observation.
James, who lives in Anacortes, Washington, is new to the gallery. His large oil and charcoal paintings on canvas have a bold abstract quality that reminds me of the work of the late Nelson Sandgren, whose landscape work was a mainstay of the gallery for years.
The two artists’ interpretations of the Northwest landscape complement each other perfectly, with Gonzalez adding color and energy to James’ restrained reflection.
Capacity: an appreciation Opens Friday, March 11 and closes April 23 at White Lotus, 767 Willamette Street. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Hart James: The Wild in the Flow and Humberto Gonzalez: Oregon Landscape, Glimpse and Wonder until April 9 at the Karin Clarke Gallery, 760 Willamette Street. Hours are 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Both shows are FREE.