Japanese-born New York artist Nobu Fukui presents a striking group of recent paintings in this exhibition. Moving away from his almost totally abstract flower paintings and landscape scenes, Fukui is now immersed in a kind of quasi-realist painting style -- the qualification being that his sense of reality is unlike anyone else's.
Migration of Monarch Butterflies is the transitional work here -- and one of the best. The large canvas is a nearly abstract allover painting of red and orange lines and dots that depict layer upon layer of butterfly wings. In Honey-bee on Fuchsia and Honey Bee on Orchid, flowers in full bloom are laden with pollen which is being consumed by superbly rendered bees. Demonstrating a wacky sense of humor, the long, narrow canvas Ants is hung low on the wall near the floor, as if the bugs were crawling out of the woodwork. In the arresting canvas Window Light I -- Roy Lichtenstein's famous "brushstroke" image is seen through a window screen. A plant resting on the window sill and fluttering moths harmonize with Lichtenstein's static Pop image. In this and other works on view, Fukui, like an ancient mystic, persuasively equates the observation of nature with a study of art.
Nobu Fukui, "Recent Paintings," May 12-June 26, 1999, at Central Fine Arts, 596 Broadway, Suite 701, New York, N.Y. 10012.
DAVID EBONY is assistant managing editor of Art in America.