Exhibit | Kaoru Mansour : Sonaemono/Offerings at Heather James Gallery
Kaoru Mansour, “Plum and Stone #101”, 2015
Exquisite nature paintings by L.A. artist Kaoru Mansour are presently on exhibit at Heather James Gallery in Palm Desert. The Japanese-born Mansour, who moved to California in 1986 and studied at Otis Art Institute in 1987, integrates traditional Japanese themes with the contemporary western genre, striking a balance between tension, weight, and whimsy that is exemplified in her show, Sonaemono/Offerings. Heather James Gallery curator Chip Tom came up with the show series title, and Mansour thought it was “Perfect!” she says, “For me, Sonaemono/Offerings include respect, appreciation, compassion, and humbleness. These are very important reminders in my life, and I have all these feelings toward nature.”
Several of Mansour’s paintings depict a kind of trompe l’oeil image, playing with our sense of weight and perspective. In the painting “Blackberry and Chandelier #111“, the chandelier appears as illusive and light as a feather, an expression of delicacy and elegance. Meanwhile, the blackberries are dark, thick, and heavy, which more represents how the fruit tastes. The juxtaposition of the two very different objects, the different ways in which the painting depicts their various essences, is a play on perspective, and a humorous observation on observation itself.
In “Fig and Salt #101″, a connection is made between Japanese landscape design and a Western pop aesthetic, embodying the artist’s professed interest in Edo period (1615-1868) woodblock and textile arts and modern fashion. “I chose Salt, because I grew up believing that Salt is a symbol of purification and it will keep bad luck away in Japan,” explains Mansour. “Figs looked very beautiful at the store while I was working on this piece. I’m pretty sure that the red spirals idea came from the design of peppermint candy that I always get after my dinner at a Thai food restaurant. Its shape popped up in my head when I was looking for elements in these pieces.”
Blending colors seamlessly and harmonizing images of seemingly disparate values is one of Mansour’s particular gifts. In “Plum and Stone #101“, the stripe on a bird’s neck is color-matched to what appears to be the cracked wall behind it. The wall itself is either far or near; either holding the various tangles of string upon which bowls of fruit and rocks balance, or merely an inert tapestry of crumbling paint in the distance.
This kind of pure, unstrained abstraction runs throughout the show, and seems the product of quiet, steady and bemused concentration.“I feel that this show’s process is a more curious honesty,” says Mansour, later adding: “I think that the result is that various works are more contemporary looking.”
Sonaemono/Offerings by artist Kaoru Mansour is showing atHeather James Gallery through March.
Images courtesy of the artist and Heather James Gallery.