The Bogart Salon is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition in New York for the artist Shingo Francis. His work is a strange and beautiful melding of painting practices that blends together elements both of Eastern and Western art traditions into one harmonious structure. In his paintings we see the combination of the reductive aesthetics of Japanese scroll painting with the early Modernist struggle to engage the concept of the “sublime” as a philosophical goal. Francis is alert to these two divergent, but not incommensurate goals, trying to find a new space that can accommodate both the simplicity of a Shoji screen painting with the reductive visual power of early Malevitch. Mirroring his own dual heritages as the child of American and Japanese parents, Francis seeks a “third way” between these two cultures, and the title of the exhibition helps inform us of his journey to find this place between simplicity and power, boldness and quietude, visual beauty and a calm, but purposeful drive to reengage the (lost?) ideals of the early twentieth century Modernists belief in the power of art to open a window to another world.
The centerpiece of this exhibition is the nearly 60 foot long painting on paper entitled, Bound for Eternity (magentablue) 2009. This piece, which is part of a body of work begun by Francis in 2007 will completely wrap the gallery, and allow visitors to be enveloped inside the object itself. This painting epitomizes the dualities of East/West. Here we see the eastern concept of unity whereby individual mark making is subordinate to the overall harmony of the design conjoined with a western desire to express individuality.
These polarities are kept in balance by the artist’s keen awareness to his own oppositional but perfectly coexisting tendencies. Though 43, Shingo Francis actually exists as a throw back to an older generation of artists who struggled to develop an autonomous practice but also saw themselves situated inside the long flow of art history. Francis is comfortable with the knowledge that while we struggle daily with increments of knowledge we are nonetheless wrapped inside and bound for eternity.