Longtime friends Rob Sato, Ryohei Tanaka, and Ako Castuera reunite with their show New Work and Then Some curated by Kris Chau at Space 1026. Like many artist cohorts, their works also share an affinity. The three bodies of work on view until October 26 possess an otherworldly quality and supernatural strength.
Los Angeles-based artist Rob Sato creates fantastical scenes of chaos and destruction. These imaginary realms often incorporate futuristic elements and suggest a military state. In the watercolor painting “Cache”, hovering compartments take the shape of a robot. The purpose of these hovering cubes is ambiguous, but they suggest shelter or resources under the control of a formidable opponent and a scarcity of supplies. The compartments also appear in many of Sato’s other works where they serve a similar function.
In “Mothership” homes are taken over by a larger, floating vessel. The mothership also resembles a house and is comprised of a patchwork of building materials, which presumably come from the destruction of the smaller homes. This imbalance in power and instability is also evident in Sato’s depiction of “The Mad Guard” protecting a fortress. Seen together the artist’s works build a narrative of a dystopian future where resources are scarce and highly sought after.
Using kirigami, the Japanese art of cutting and folding paper to make designs, Tokyo artist Ryohei Tanaka creates demon-like figures and spirits. At the opening reception, the artist was demonstrating the technique surrounded by a crowd of onlookers. Because of their symmetry, the creatures are powerful, recalling ancient symbols and deities. Tanaka’s cut paper figures are framed and also hang from the ceiling. This more sculptural approach helps to create an environment. The cut paper works are also meticulously detailed and patterned, adding to their sense of strength. Along with the mystical figures, the artist also has cut paper works of “Williem Dafoe” and “Dennis Hopper”. These celebrity portraits resemble caricatures and share the menacing quality of the demon-like figures. In addition to his cut paper creations, the artist also has framed prints, which incorporate the same imagery, but the influence of Japanese pop culture is more apparent.
Los Angeles-based artist Ako Castuera’s ceramic pieces on view largely depict animals. Like Tanaka’s demons and spirits, they are also a source of great power. Her work “One Eyed Owl” resembles a totem figure, and the same can be said for works like “Fire Flower Elk” and “Magic Ears”. In addition to her ceramic pieces, Castuera also has small watercolor paintings, which depict a brightly colored utopia.
New Work and Then Some isn’t curated around a central idea, but it is easy to draw parallels between the artists’ work. With their friendship serving as the basis for the exhibition, it’s not surprising that these commonalities exist.