AKIO TAKAMORI People / Alphabet
March 8 – April 21 2012
Barry Friedman Ltd is pleased to present
“People / Alphabet,” an exhibition of new figurative sculptures
by Akio Takamori in his second solo show at the gallery. The
exhibition will open with a reception for the artist on Thursday,
March 8 and will be on view through April 21st, 2012.
Considered one of the most inventive and expressive artists to
emerge in contemporary ceramics, Akio Takamori focuses on
human relationships and an ongoing search for personal and
cultural identity in an era of increasing global influences and contradictions.
Born in Nobeoka, Japan in 1950, the artist has spent
more than half of his life living in the United States. Informed by
a dual citizenship, Takamori’s sculptures are liberated from their
social context and grouped to suggest the artist’s belief in a collective
memory representing the shifting historical, cultural, and
racial perspectives that create individual and group identity.
With People / Alphabet, Takamori continues to explore sculpture informed by his multicultural background. These 3-dimensional
figures show people posing as letters. They look Japanese, but the letters they form are from the Latin alphabet and
not characters from the Japanese writing system. This theme follows a long art-historical tradition of depicting people in the
shape of letters with various degrees of eroticism or typographical accuracy, from XIIth century illuminated manuscripts to
numerous contemporary versions in a variety of media including works by Salvador Dali, William Blake and Erté.
Artist Paul Amey describes Takamori’s new figures as “All busy doing their eccentric Tai Chi-like gestures. United at the Lido,
but lonely and preoccupied.” All together, the figures, many of which appear distracted and preoccupied, are poised between
an alphabet and constructed words, between form and meaning.
Juxtaposed with the standing figures is a set of wall-mounted, two-dimensional slab figures also forming the letters of the
Alphabet. These flat monochromatic figures reference the artist’s continued interest in redefining the traditional boundaries
between two- and three- dimensional fields, between vessel and sculpture, and between Eastern and Western influences.
Takamori’s work can be found in numerous private and public collections including, Carnegie Museum of Art, PA; Los Angeles
County Museum of Art, CA; Museum of Arts and Design, NY; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. In 2005, Between Clouds
of Memory, his critically praised mid-career survey, traveled to 5 museums throughout the United States. Takamori has been
the recipient of numerous honors including three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Joan Mitchell
Foundation Grant, the 2011 USA Ford Fellowship, the Virginia A. Groot Foundation First Prize and two European Ceramic
Workcentre Fellowships. Akio Takamori resides in Seattle, WA where he is Professor of Art at the University of Washington.
For visuals and more information, please contact:
Osvaldo Da Silva and Carole Hochman 212-239-8600.
TIP TOLAND | RETURN
March 8 – April 21 2012
Barry Friedman is pleased to present “Return,” a solo exhibition of
figurative sculpture by the contemporary artist Tip Toland. This exhibition, Toland’s
first at Barry Friedman, will open with a reception for the artist on Thursday, March 8
from 6-8pm and will be on view through April 21st, 2012.
The characters in Tip Toland’s ceramic sculptures are fragile creatures, at different
stages in life. Each figure is at least partly autobiographical, embodying an aspect
of Toland that has “inched its way to the foreground of my awareness and is ready
to become fleshed out”. Sometimes nude, they are stripped of social context and
share a similar vulnerability, isolation, and innocence. They are studies of the human
psyche articulated through realistic characters, conveying states of being and
common traits of the human condition, some of which the viewer may recognize in
himself or herself. Moments of awareness, pleasure, serenity, pain, angst, insecurity,
and desire are depicted in a hyper-realistic and surrealistic manner.
Pulse, one the most complex sculptures the artist has ever undertaken, depicts a life-size female nude on a swing in motion. Featured in “Melt”, Toland’s
solo exhibition at the Bellevue Arts Museum in 2008, this is the first time this sculpture will be on view in a gallery. Toland considers the swing a metaphor
for life. The outstretched woman, her head thrown back in abandon with long black hair cascading to the floor, accepts the tenuous threads from which she
hangs and embraces the moment.
In a youth-obsessed society, a sculpture like Monkey Mind, the seated figure of an elderly man whose body is aged and wrinkled, may have an unsettling
quality for the viewer. Imbued with an inner serenity, his animated and chattering finger puppets appear to amuse, rather than unsettle.
In his catalogue essay for “Melt,” Museum Director of Curatorial Affairs/Artistic Director Stefano Catalani explains, “In the hands of an artist like Toland, there
could perhaps be no better medium than clay. Intrinsically fragile, and even more vulnerable during the process of its hardening, in her work it seems to
possess an encompassing capacity to reveal the human dimension that takes its fundamental strength from her vision and the authority of her accomplished
sculptural practice.” Fellow Curator Nora Atkins writes, “[Toland] explores those on the edge between society and solitude, the more marginalized characters
we identify with, as well as the marginalization within ourselves. These sculptures deal directly with the constant conflict between self and society, birth and
mortality, innocence and wisdom, as their subjects evolve in time from infancy to old age. […] Beyond the quest for acceptance in society, the pieces seek an
extra-societal acceptance of the self, and examine our perception of the socially sidelined and alienated. With her sculptures grounded in their materiality,
yet manifesting the spiritual, Toland continues to offer a poignant lens on the human condition.”
About Tip Toland
Tip Toland was born outside of Philadelphia in 1950 and received an MFA from Montana State University in 1981. She has been the recipient of prestigious
awards including a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1986, and a first-place grant from the Virginia A. Groot Foundation in 2005. Her work is included
in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Museum of Arts and Design, NY; Arizona State University Art Museum; Yellowstone
Art Museum, MT; Kohler Arts Center, WI; Archie Bray Foundation, MT, and as well as many private collections. Toland lives in the Seattle area and conducts
workshops across the United States.