Hoshine blurs the line between abstraction and figuration; when describing his creative practice, the New York-based artist has noted, “I have always found images that are obscured or fragmented to be more interesting than ‘complete pictures.’” Hoshine offers glimpses into his fragmented reality through slightly surrealist forms, gestures, and references to everyday life. The deceiving presence of discernible, fully illustrated objects (such as an umbrella, a lampshade, or a ladder) gives the viewer the illusion of deciphering the artist’s enigmatic narratives but instead leaves them with fragments of shapes representing myriad meanings, ranging from occult symbols and modern architecture to magic tricks, maps, or folk tales.
A new body of work by Kenichi Hoshine is bringing fantastical abstractions to Hollis Taggart in his first solo exhibition there. The Magician and The Thief features eleven new paintings inspired by a wide range of references, from film, television, and theatrical sets to found imagery, poster design, and the occult. Viewers may detect allusions to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, John Baldessari and Hiroshige in Hoshine's work; the artist also notes Sigmar Polke, R.B. Kitaj, Kobayashi Kiyochika, Lawrence Carroll, Martin Kippenberger, off-register prints, African movie posters, and military history amongst his varied interests and influences.
A master colorist, Hoshine’s semi-abstract compositions emerge from mostly black or dark backgrounds, exploding onto the surface in a colorful palette of vibrant yet muted hues. His mystifying shapes resemble cut-outs, and seduce the viewer with shades of teal, marigold, carmine, maroon, turquoise, and sky blue that are regularly interrupted or reframed by representations of colorful light, such as golden rays and polka dots.
In his early work, Hoshine often incorporated a variety of media including acrylics, charcoal, tea, beeswax, and oils, giving his paintings dynamic depth. In his most recent works, the Japanese- American artist primarily focuses on the qualities and opportunities offered by acrylic paint alone. By layering and subsequently scraping away the paint from the panel’s surface—often several times in a single work—Hoshine engages in an active editing process, a game of revealing and concealing.
The exhibition’s title, The Magician and The Thief, investigates the narrative power of images when viewed through the lens of transformation or subtraction. When asked about this choice, the artist noted, “I wanted to leave [the title] open to interpretation. An artist could be the magician and the audience the thief, or it could be the other way around. Or a singular person could be both the magician and the thief—a two-sided figure who manifests wonderment but also is devious and cunning behind the scenes.” Kenichi Hoshine’s complex works ultimately emerge as an indefinite shadow play, prompting the viewer to see imaginary worlds or intimate tableaux of everyday life.
Kenichi Hoshine: The Magician and The Thief is on view at Hollis Taggart, 521 West 26th Street New York, NY, through February 15, 2020.