A vibrant orange-colored volcano regurgitates flowers and jagged geometric fragments.
The immediate blunder of smoke blossoms into a wholesome mosaic of flowers, overlapping each other and melding together. This ethereality, however, is juxtaposed with the jarring, shattered lime green shards. But they nevertheless seem to dance around the bouquet of delicately-painted flowers.
This is Japanese-American painter Chie Fueki’s depiction of Mount Fuji. She will deliver the Art Department Claflin lecture entitled, “Here There and Everywhere.” The event will take place on Monday, March 28 at 5 p.m. in Taylor Hall, Room 203.
In a 2015 lecture at FIT, she explained, “This is a difficult image for me to see because I made this as an anticipation that Japanese people have as a whole towards earthquakes and the possibility of any live mountain erupting… that sort of awareness of life and death is something I have always been interested in.”
In another piece, a coral-bordered prism entraps a suave rainbow-colored banner. The banner varies from segment to segment. One segment is an archetypal stretch of appropriately-ordered rainbow colors. Some segments are floral, but each flower is colored in a rainbow color. Some segments mimic the sky and clouds—sky blue and white, respectively. In contrast, the backdrop of the prism is composed of dark blue and gray flowers, creating an overall ominous background.
However, the floor of the prism appears to be wooden. There are distinctly two puddles, reflecting the banners and the backdrop.
This piece by Fueki is entitled “Rain” and combines Fueki’s influences within this prism– she refers to it as a carrier of ideas and influences.
“I didn’t want to make anything political,” she said in interview with the Ringling College of Art and Design. “I wanted something literal that would still question the state of the world we are in today.”
These paradoxical concepts and surreal landscapes at once captivate the idle sights of viewers. Flowers and fragments. Bouquets and shards. Vibrant and dark. Curves and lines. These are, indeed, Fueki’s weapons of power and virtuosity. They help her engage in a conversation with her art. She explained, “I believe that painting is about recognizing the history of painting itself. By giving that recognition, we continue participating. It’s almost like a conversation and I want to be in this conversation with some of the master works.”
Fueki was born in Yokohama, Japan and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her works have been notably on exhibit at the Boone Gallery in New York City and the Shoshana Wayne Gallery in Santa Monica, Calif.
Though relatively unfamiliar with Fueki and her work, prospective Art History major Megan Horn ’19 is intrigued. She explained, “I had never heard of Chie Fueki before but I browsed through some of her work and really liked it.”
According to Loeb Multimedia Assistant Delphine Douglas ’18, “It’s always really interesting to hear from artists who have been the subject of so many solo exhibits. I’m putting together an exhibition, ‘Post Modfest,’ and it’s made me interested in learning about the perspective of both the artist and the curator. These lectures shed some light on this perspective.”
She continued, “It’s always beneficial to hear firsthand about an artist’s influences and processes, especially when they have such a unique background.”
Fueki combines Eastern and Western decorative and folk elements. Her subjects extend from athletic imagery to more traditional subject matter, including portraits of friends and memento mori. Her work manifests in intricate patterns and details, on mulberry paper and wood panel.
Fueki’s art has been described as an intoxicating and sensual delight. Her work is known for its decorative nature and its roots in the visceral and the humorous. Fueki’s influences include Early Renaissance art, Japanese ukiyo art, Piero della Francesca and Philip Guston among many other muses. She draws in a variety of spaces into a single painting. Jarring and mosaic, Fueki’s paintings transmutes the cosmic and the eternal into day-to-day life.
Fueki’s works elicited a sense of familiarity in Horn. She explained, “Some of her work definitely draws on a similar aesthetic of a Japanese woodblock print but the way figures, forms and space interlock and meld together creates a really cool geometry.
Fueki’s vehicle of artistry is driven by not only her paintbrush but also her years of study. In 1995, Fueki first attended the Yale Norfolk School of Art, where she studied sculpture. Then, in 1996, she received her BFA in painting from the Ringling School of Art and Design and, subsequently in 1998, her MFA in painting from Yale University.
Bellwether, Bill Maynes Gallery in New York City and the Orlando Museum in Florida have hosted Fueki’s solo exhibitions. Her paintings have made appearances in group exhibitions at MoMA PS1, the Frederick Freiser Gallery and the Susan Inglett Gallery in New York. Fueki has delivered lectures regarding her art at other institutions, including the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, the Tyler School of Art, the University of California, Davis, the University of the Arts and the University of Arkansas.
Fueki currently lives in West Chester, Pa. and Brooklyn, N.Y. Her move to isolated West Chester became a driving force behind her art. “By being totally isolated by myself, I found that I could concentrate greatly on my work. And then when I come to New York, I am out more … It’s been a really great balance.”
The syncretism of delicacy and geometry of Fueki’s artwork left a lasting and fascinating impression on Horn. She concluded, “Definitely an artist I want to know more about or study further.”