Tazuko Ichikawa — Reviews

Washington Post

July 2016 'In the galleries: Ladies First' at Gallery Neptune and Brown by Mark Jenkins Ladies First Two of Carol Barsha's large florals are in Gallery Neptune & Brown's "Ladies First," and their red blooms provide much of the color in the eight-woman show. There also are vivid abstractions by Cianne Fragione, rendered with nearly as many as materials as hues. But most of the artists are more concerned with lines, whether executed with ink, pencil or bronze. Janis Goodman's intricate drawings include one with an off-center flurry of cross-hatching, suggesting a tornado or a dense thicket, and several that depict reflected light on gentle tides. The latter pictures complement detailed yet stark abstractions by Linn Meyers, each of which punctuates a similarly rippling expanse with a perfect circle. Stretched across two sheets of paper, Beverly Ress's pale "Pink Wing" seems as much a minimalist exercise as an ornithological study. (One of Barsha's nests would have fit well with this grouping.) The only sculptures are by Raya Bodnarchuk, who contributed small bronzes of standing human figures, as well as a seated, streamlined and smiling cat that is one of the array's crowd-pleasers. Yet Taz Ichikawa's drawings have a sculptural quality, whether they employ shadows and modeling to simulate 3-D qualities or, as in "Inspiration," contrast such techniques with unadorned pencil swoops. The piece illustrates the ability and the desire to expand a single stroke into a full work of art. Ladies First On view through July 16 at Gallery Neptune & Brown, 1530 14th St. NW. 202-986-1200

New Art Examiner

January 1996 Tazuko Ichikawa - Sasakawa Peace Foundation Gallery by Sarah Tanguy A sense of grace and paradox immediately impressed the viewer of Tazuko Ichikawa's show -the kind of grace that derives from humble materials being trasformed into objects of understated beauty and the touch of paradox that harks to the artist's childhood in Kamakura, Japan, the seat of Zen Buddhism. Kamakura is also known for its style of carpentry, which Ichikawa deftly adapts in her own sculpture. Using a combination of hand and power tools, the artist begins by laminating strips of wood into basic forms. She then carves the shells with an all-over pattern of shallow slices and applies stains in rich autumnal colors. Worn, but not ravaged, the resulting works reflect the struggle of their creation. Their multi-faceted surfaces possess a sensual luster that splays with reflected light like frozen ripples on a mountain stream. Unlike Ichikawa's earlier rectilinear wood studies, the works in this show feature rounded shapes. Suggesting movement and change, these organic forms provided the building blocks for the artist's personal vision and made the sculptures conduits for universal energy. Unraveling and Reaching - each large-scale variations on the circle and the undulating line - are ovious expressions of this dynamic state of becoming. Even the seemingly calm Presence, in which two pale arches delicately embrace a dark carrying case structure, hums with a hidden life force. In his essay, curator Jim Mahoney discusses the importance of paradox and the role of Japanese aesthetics in Ichikawa's constructions. Indeed, a series of contradictions - full/empty, light/dark, closed/open, still/moving - lie at their spritual core. In this regard, the highlight of the show was Unfolding, where an S-curved ladder construction emerges from a dark brown ball. The enigmatic gesture raised myriad questions as to its nature and meaning. Ichikawa's show happily points to ways other than via Postmodern critique to pay homage to native traditions and reconcile a split heritage. Her exquisitely crafted works always feel part of a greater whole. Their nuanced variations speak to the power of subtlety and the yearning for perfection. At the same time, like Prince Charming's kiss, they awaken the viewer's slumbering unconscious and reward prolonged contemplation.

Art in America

June 1988 Tazuko Ichikawa at Anton by J.W. Mahoney The newest wall-mounted constructions of Tazuko Ichikawa are esthetically inscrutable at first glance. Made of white, black or muted gray rectangles of painted wood or canvas that are stacked, joined or bound together with rope, they appear to be exercises in a retardataire Minimalism whose motives are purely formal. What is easily overlooked is the fact that in her work Ichikawa is answering to a tradition far older than Western Minimalism, namely Zen Buddhism, a doctrine that incorporates the highly variegated esthetics of silence that has been a part of Japanese culture for many centuries. In Japan, silence has never been perceived as an inactive state or a quality-poor condition. In fact, there are at least four words in Japanese that are directly related to its aesthetic characteristics, each work very loosely defined, descriptive of mood (or subjective reaction, if you want) and, most significantly, not mutually exclusive. These notions of silence find direct expression in Ichikawa's work. Kasane I consists of five rectangular canvases painted black, stacked vertically and joined with rope to an unpainted pine support. The piece is deeply imbued with wabi, the Japanese word for "poverty." Wabi also signifies the beauty of the simple and essential, the wonder available in the commonplace, the poignancy one discovers in the obvious. In Kasane I, wabi asserts itself via the humble purity of the roughly woven rope that intersects the black canvases in a taut vertical line, binding the elements into an oblique wholeness. A pale-beige vertical piece, Nagare I is made of four thin, vertical wood beamsjoined side by side and bent outward at the lower end, from behind which a single panel projects at a subtle angle. The work has a spare, melancholy air; it is an evocation of sabi, literally "loneliness," a term that also refers to the quality of beauty found in the solitary, in that which is isolated by space, circumstance or history. It further invokes both the wear of time on an object and its unalterably individual nature. Shibui, meaning "bitterness," is strongly evoked in Chigai II, in which four small, black wood rectangles are stacked below and to the left of a long horizontal white wood rectangle, the black and the white forms touching at their extreme angles. Shibui also stands for rigorous simplicity, the beauty of reduction to an absolute from which the extraneous, the overstated, the unnecessary are absent. Thus Chigai II expresses an unsparing clarity, experienced plainly. A final variant on the theme of silence is Hikari-Oto I, a work composed of adominant black wood square abutted along its right side by six gray-blue rectangular panels of gradually diminishing widths. This piece exemplifies Yugen (two words melded together that mean "hidden" and "obscure"), the notion of an unfathomed depth of meaning lying behind appearance. Hikari-oto translates from the Japanese as "the sound of light," a synesthetic conundrum that is echoed by the dualities present in the piece. Ichikawa sees her works as concretions of light and energy articulated by intuitively ordered rhythms, intervals in time and space that frame and halo units of meaning. Her constructions are not strictly symbols, then, but indications of the ineffable presence of a conscious patterning - universal stabilities emerging from a pure void.