Opening cocktail reception: February 6, 6–8 pm
Hawaiian-born artist Robert Yasuda, noted for his subtly iridescent paintings suffused with luminous color, presents all new work in the solo exhibition titled Make Haste Slowly (Isogaba Maware – Japanese Proverb).
Layering acrylic paint and sheer, woven fabric atop sculpted wooden panels, Robert Yasuda builds surfaces that are at once ethereal and architectural. His process begins with the wooden panels, which he carves by hand, guided by intuition and instinct. Suggestive of Yasuda’s desire to break from the constraints of the conventional rectangle, the panels often take on unexpected shapes and non-traditional forms. Their smooth, gently sloped edges (a hallmark of Yasuda’s work) echo a practice of the artist’s youth, when he worked shaping surfboards in Hawaii.
Once the panels are complete, Yasuda applies alternate layers of fabric and paint—a palette of luminescent teals, pinks, purples, blues, greens and gold—building the surface until the desired effect is achieved. Suspended between layers of translucent paint, the intricate weave of the scrim forms a grid of microscopic receptors that capture and reflect light.
Each layer of paint and fabric is subtly visible, creating a radiant color field and depth of space that lures the viewer in, compelling an extended examination. The work is understated and contemplative, revealing itself in a slow and deliberate manner. “The paintings are a form of meditation that brings you into the work, creating a quiet intensity and intimate space,” says Yasuda.
In addition to his ongoing investigation into the effects of light on surfaces and forms, Yasuda also continues to examine the role of the support in his practice. Having rejected the notion of the conventional painting frame as a decorative or purely functional element, Yasuda consistently introduces new means of context and framing. He attaches covert cradle-like wooden structures behind several paintings, forcing the works forward into space giving them a distinctly sculptural quality.
Born in Hawaii, Yasuda moved to New York City in the late 1950s where he attended the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. He began exploring themes of perception, light and nature in the early 1970s, producing resoundingly abstract paintings. He would dry the delicately layered canvases under the scorching sun in Florida, where he still spends half the year painting in the Keys. Increasingly, he became fascinated with the different character of his works when viewed in natural light versus artificial light.
Robert Yasuda has exhibited extensively across the globe. He has been recognized with awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Yasuda's works are in the permanent collections of The Brooklyn Museum, New York; The Library of Congress, Washington, DC; The New York Public Library; The Bass Museum, Miami, Florida; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; and The McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas.
A digital catalogue with an essay by Dr. Marshall Price, curator of Contemporary Art at the National Academy Museum, accompanies the exhibition.