Kana Kou (Yoshida)’s work reminds me of the Milesian School, famous from the philosopher Thales. That School espoused a mythical understanding of things, beginning their process of logical reasoning by measurement and observation. For this, Milesians are recognised as the first Western philosophers. They attempted to grasp the natural state of existence through a comprehensive picture of the world, covering a truly huge area in their intent to understand through observation. Today we still contemplate the existence of phenomena, their relationship to the origin of the world, and the structures of universe by training our observing eyes on how things really are, not on how they should be. We continue to operate in a Milesian mode. Kou stands firmly within this tradition.
Kou’s expansive landscapes made in crayon on paper and taken from high vantage points were exhibited in Tokyo some five years ago. Despite the dramatic vistas, her work gave the impression of a basis in calm observation and clear understanding. I later learned she derived her work from the experience of mountain climbing and sea diving, and I realised how her picture planes reflect landscapes captured in her real bodily sensations. What followed was the work Beautiful Limit – Adventure to the Endless Chaos, which invited the viewer to see a flowing and continuous panorama of a whole area, not a view from a particular point. Kou measured the terrain herself by moving through it, and her work encouraged viewers to understand the landscape via the same type of progress, moving at the same speed. Kou’s work became a bodily experience for her viewers, not just an object to be looked at.
So far Kou has depicted the surfaces of visible terrains, whether in mountains or under water. Now, her creative interest has extended higher into the celestial realm and deeper into the ground. Observation of nature will ultimately stray into the realm of metaphysics: thinking about the existence of what ought to lie in front of us, impossible to grasp for certain, can be accessed by questioning what surrounds us, and so, eventually, inquiring into the existence of our own selves. Kou has found her own way out from her previous landscape style of bodily experience, to a new pondering of landscapes that are not obviously accessible. Kou strives to grasp the seamless world that exists outside the fragmentation of landscape art.
Hiromi Kurosawa (Chief Curator of 21 Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa )