• Regeneration


Tsuneko Kokubo

May 14 - August 13, 2016

My approach to art is largely emotional rather than intellectual, intuitive rather than conceptual, personal rather than social. This approach, as well as the visual references to impressionism, may not be fashionable. I do not normally delve into oppression, war, violence, racism, sexuality and the other dilemmas and dramas of contemporary life. It is not that I am unaware of these concerns, but rather that I have chosen to explore and offer a way out of strife, and into beauty, if only for an instant. I will often start with detail, then pare away, moving from complexity to simplicity, striving to distil the essence of beauty in the natural world.

I have sometimes felt selfish in this pursuit, but recently I have been encouraged by the work On Beauty and Being Just of Elaine Scarry, professor of aesthetics at Harvard University who defends beauty against charges that it is politically incorrect. She says that “Plato was right, and many other classical philosophers were right when they said that beauty is a call on us to create something better”. She maintains that “Beauty restores your trust in the world” and “is actually, very much leading to justice.”

A moment of beauty appears suddenly, like a breeze. I want to capture that moment on canvas or paper as fast as I can, before it is gone. When I can share this joy, I am happy, in the knowledge that some genuine communication has occurred.

At times, of course, I vary my modus operandi, incorporating elements of the natural world with fragments of personal letters written in the flowing forms of Japanese calligraphy. The results are more abstract and conceptual – they contain references to the transience of messages, the disruption of cultures, and the fragility of experience.

In 1994 I was awarded a Canada Council grant to explore a more narrative approach through a series of paintings based on my memories of childhood growing up in Japan during the Second World War, separated from my family in Canada.

In this new work for the Regeneration show, I am combining impressions, abstractions and narrative elements related to early Japanese immigration, family memories, and the internment of Nikkei (Japanese Canadians) in the Slocan Valley – all the while striving for beauty in expected places.

Tsuneko Kokubo

Opening Reception: Saturday, May 14, 2016 from 1-3pm