David Kuraoka, ‘PTT,  B&W with Red’, galerie 103
David Kuraoka, ‘PTT,  B&W with Red’, galerie 103
David Kuraoka, ‘PTT,  B&W with Red’, galerie 103
David Kuraoka, ‘PTT,  B&W with Red’, galerie 103

NEW SPACE – FRESH PAINT

July 9 - October 1 2016

A group exhibit presenting recent works in a range of mediums by the gallery artists* in celebration of galerie 103’s one year anniversary in the new upstairs location.

Featured in the main hall: Tom Lieber’s contemplative paintings, and ceramic and bronze sculptures by David Kuraoka.

David Kuraoka + Tom Lieber
galerie 103
July 11 - September 21 2015

An exhibition to mark the grand re-opening of galerie 103 featuring recent sculptures by David Kuraoka and paintings by Tom Lieber. Relating in sensibility - color, scale, and abstraction, the works by two mature artists flow seamlessly through the gallery space.

SCALING SURFACES

A Kauai exhibition pairs the works of ceramist David Kuraoka and painter Tom Lieber

By David A.M. Goldberg

Special to the Star-Advertiser, Aug 2, 2015

Kauai's Galerie 103 has presented a solid and effective pairing with ceramist David Kuraoka and abstract painter Tom Lieber. Where Kuraoka works in 3-D, Lieber's painting techniques create the impression of great depth. At the same time, both artists are ultimately negotiating surfaces, and they make highly effective use of their respective media's capacity for abstract expression. The result is a balancing of Kuraoka's mass and density against Lieber's scale and chaotic scope.

Much of Kuraoka's work can be read in terms of living or lifelike processes. A series of smaller-scale stoneware works named after mangoes and coconuts opens the show, followed by much larger forms that could be "grown up" versions, and one of his most recent colorfully rhythmic stacked ring pieces.

"White Water Mango," "Shallow Water Mango," and "Blue Ocean Sphere" all feature glaze patterns that are evoked by their titles. Though the similarly sized "Coco" features a leopard or giraffe-inspired pattern, all of them have small and densely packed elements at each end of the form and enlarged and expanded textures at their equators.

Through the works, Kuraoka explores repetition, compartmentalization and delineation: five-sided shapes, irregular concentric rings that vibrate like visualized sound, spots and swirling vortices of schooling fish. Each of these pieces is divided into upper and lower hemispheres by a red horizontal meridian line that Kuraoka iterates on and varies in other works.

Lieber also divides his canvases into northern and southern halves. The works are often named with subtle allusions to space, joining ("Spats," "Wink") and volume ("Pewter Strout"). Each canvas is centered on an explosive calligraphic, V-shaped gesture that is simultaneously rooted and periscopic, connected by a loose bundle of spinal gestures. Bursts of red and white (like blood vessels and bone) link the paintings' sections, evoking a life force at the center of each canvas.

Around these darker masses are a wide variety of brushstrokes best described as meteorological in texture and energy. Sometimes Lieber scrapes the canvas nearly clean; other times he practically braids the strokes in slightly different colors. There are accumulations and wakes, and drip patterns that have carved paths of cracked and diluted pigment through previously applied layers.

There could be no greater distance between the environments that produce Kuraoka's glaze patterns and Lieber's brushwork, but both create landscapes that are rich in energy and unique geological details that point to lessons modern art has been trying to teach for decades.

Vessels such as jars and pots inspire Kuraoka's larger works, but they are decidedly nonfunctional — you won't be putting flowers or fruit into any of these pieces. Along parallel lines, Lieber's abstract expressionism conveys essences of humanity but do not render a recognizable person, thing or place. Both artists are working with, toward and along states of mind or being, and demonstrate that there comes a point where the mastery of a medium allows them to pursue the transcendence of function and/or representation.

The "meaning" of the piece, or "what it is," is told through the story of the surface itself, which can be grasped through the same perceptual tools we use to appreciate the patterns and rhythms found in nature: stones, clouds, shells, barks, leaves and pelts. Each artist uses additional, initially invisible, layers of cracks, bleeding effects and membranous transparency to further deepen the experience.

Kuraoka's larger works use stripes, clusters, rings and spots to follow vertical organic contours that end in complex lids or caps. Here textures are maximized, points of umbilical (dis)connection are implied and gouged totemic eyes stare out. These are the emotional, turbulent focal points that facilitate the conceptual leap to Lieber's brooding figures (never as monochromatic or flat as they first appear) surrounded by swirling colors, fogs and jet streams.

However, all of this abstraction is meaningful only when there are underlying glimmers of function to be perceived. For Kuraoka this is the "jar"; for Lieber it is a consistent and clearly expressed structure of opposition, division and unity. We bring these tenuous anchors with us when we approach the work.

When guided by seasoned artists like these, we are invited to loosen our grips on our preconceptions and float away, following them to a world where ceramics aren't only for holding things and paintings aren't restricted to portraiture and landscape.

DAVID KURAOKA AND TOM LIEBER

» On exhibit: Through Sept. 21; noon to 8 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays and by appointment (call 808-652-0712)
» Where: Galerie 103, The Shops at Kukui'ula, 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka Road, Kauai
» Info: 808-742-0103

About David Kuraoka