On Illusions

Cuchifritos Gallery and Residency Unlimited are pleased to present their seventh annual collaboration, On Illusions, featuring the recent work of Japanese artists Naomi Okubo and Kuniyasu Sakaizawa.

Through two distinct practices, both artists create work that hovers along the edge of the material world and perception. Okubo’s tender images of lush landscapes animated by cartoonish details often conceal the fragile state of the female characters at the center of her work. Borrowing from the glossy and colorful aesthetics of advertising and repetitive motifs created by digital technology and mass media, the worlds depicted in Okubo’s paintings frequently deflect the viewer’s attention from the contradictions between beauty and femininity imposed on women and the vulnerabilities that are exacerbated by a need to conform.

Sakaizawa’s iterative process makes similar use of the canvas, as layers of paint, applied in dozens of identical gestures, build out beyond a two-dimensional surface. Each element of the work—title, color composition, shifts in tone and texture—reveal a body of thought much larger than any single painting.

Exhibition and residency support is provided by Residency Unlimted and Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan.

In her painterly practice, Naomi Okubo develops beautiful and seductive images that mask darker themes relating to her adolescence and that are connected to greater problems and inconsistencies in society. Okubo’s paintings are populated by shy girls who wouldn’t face the mirror, who hide behind books and flowers or simply stare at the floor and let their heavy, black bobs block their view. They are fragile and conscious, also mysterious, almost endearing.

“I’ve always cared about appearances. The ideas for my work come from an inferiority complex and my experiences during adolescence. That is when everyone starts to think and worry about what others think of their look. When I changed my own image, people changed their attitude towards me,” says Naomi. “They started to be concerned about me, and our relationship became better. This made me realize the power of fashion and my own fear of watchful eyes.

In 2016, Okubo received a program of Overseas Study for Upcoming Artist sponsored by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs. She was selected for a residency organized by the Art Department of Halland Municipality, Sweden. Recent solo exhibitions include: THIS IS NOT MY LIFE, GALLERY MoMo, Tokyo(2016); Where should I go? Hamnmagasinet, Varberg, Sweden(2014); A dream beyond dreams, H.P.F WINDOW GALLERY(2013); Tokyo Wonder Wall 2007, Skywall of Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo(2008); Selected group exhibitions: ART AWARD TOKYO MARUNOUCHI, Under Gyoko Ave,Tokyo(2011); Collaboration work: ZEIT-Magazine, Germany.

Kuniyasu Sakaizawa is an abstract painter based in Tokyo. In 1998, he had his first one man show at  the Kamakura Gallery, and his work has been featured in the following group exhibitions: 2010,  “assembling” vision’s, Ningyo-cho; 2010, A-Thing; 2009, “The Dream of Cybord”, Art Trace Gallery, Ryogoku; A-THing2006,The 3rd Fuchu Biennial “On Beauty and Value, Seven Artists of Post-Bubble Generation” Fuchu Art Museum.

Cuchifritos is FREE to the public and handicap accessible. Located inside Essex Street Market at the south end nearest Delancey.

Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space is a program of Artists Alliance Inc., a 501c3 not for profit organization located on the Lower East Side of New York City within the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center. Cuchifritos is supported in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. This program is made possible by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. We thank the New York City Economic Development Corporation and individual supporters of Artists Alliance Inc for their continued support. Special thanks go to our team of dedicated volunteers and interns, without whom this program would not be possible. For more information, visit artistsallianceinc.org.