Kristen Lorello opens an exhibition of works by Takuji Hamanaka

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Kristen Lorello opens an exhibition of works by Takuji Hamanaka
Takuji Hamanaka, Fire Sparkle, 2021. Cut and pasted woodblock printed papers, mounted on museum board, 32 x 25 1/2 inches, photo: Lance Brewer.

NEW YORK, NY.- Kristen Lorello opened a solo exhibition of new works on paper by Brooklyn-based artist Takuji Hamanaka. This is the artist's third solo exhibition at the gallery and includes abstract compositions comprised of small pieces of precisely collaged papers printed in the traditional Japanese Bokashi woodblock printing technique. In this technique, a woodblock is inked unevenly to create a fade of color when pressed onto paper. In this new group of works, Hamanaka has transformed his approach to color. He achieves brilliant hues by layering printed gradients of color over each other onto single papers that he then aligns, cuts, and collages to form dazzling polychrome bands that repeat in different forms. A full-color catalogue is available.

Each composition includes a pattern of irregular shapes separated from a single color background by a blurred outline of beige paper. Whereas in previous works Hamanaka printed a fade of a single color onto paper, in these new works Hamanaka has printed each individual rectangular paper four times with four different tones (two light underlayers and two dark overlayers). He selects particular combinations of the prints and arranges them together vertically into elongated bands. As a result, the colors appear to undulate as one tone fades and then reemerges as an altogether different hue. Movement, the idea of windows and glass, as well as interior architecture and stairs inspire the arrangements of the forms in each composition. As Hamanaka explains,

"I am interested in repetition taking place in abstraction, since repetition resonates with the larger part of the life cycle. I hand print over 1,000 water-based woodcuts in different colors. The next step is to work on drawing on museum board with pencil to indicate the network of lines and shapes that serve as a map. Then I select the colors and woodcuts, and I cut them in shapes and construct the final image as one makes a mosaic work using a sheet of stained glass. I work within a selected limitation of colors and combinations. They are completely different materials, glass and paper, but I consider my work to be hybrid in a way, and I like to think that I shed a new light on the century old craft of Japanese woodcut."

In traditional Japanese woodcut printmaking (Mokuhanga), as in the works of Hokusai and Hiroshige, Bokashi was used to denote spatial depth as in a sky fading from blue to white. It is important to Hamanaka to continue this traditional method of printmaking with a new approach to the material, a concept he refers to as 'trans-placing.' Utilizing the printed papers as the medium of collaged, abstract compositions, Hamanaka creates contemporary visions of color and shape that stimulate the senses and the eye.

Takuji Hamanaka was born in 1968 in Hokkaido, Japan, and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. From 1986-89 he trained at the Adachi Institute of Woodblock printmaking in Tokyo, Japan. Hamanaka is the 2022 recipient of a prestigious Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, and the recipient numerous other grants and awards including The Gottlieb Foundation Individual Support Grant (2021), the Rauschenberg Emergency Grant (2020), and the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship in Printmaking (2017 and 2011). He was a fellow at the Kala Art institute, Berkeley, CA in 2016 and a Barbara and Thomas Putnam Fellow at MacDowell Colony in 2013. His works are included in the collections of the Fleming Museum, The University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, the Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, the New York Presbyterian Hospital, and the Fidelity Investments Corporate Art Collection, among others. Recent group exhibitions include 'Focus on the Flatfiles: Between Worlds,' Kentler International Drawing Center, Brooklyn, NY, and 'Here and Now,' The Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster, NJ. His exhibitions have been reviewed by John Yau (Hyperallergic) and Johanna Fateman (The New Yorker).

The artist dedicates the exhibition to Hiroyuki Hamanaka.

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