The new year has begun in earnest; it’s back to work all round and I’ve been back on the art gallery trail, visiting odd corners of London to find tucked-away galleries you might never know were there. Today’s gallery is West End rather than East End – beyond the farthest corner of Grosvenor Square, almost to Park Lane, there’s a little hidden mews called Lees Place, where the Elena Shchukina gallery is showing richly coloured intricate paintings from Kyosuke Tchinai.
Tchinai comes from a small town in Ehime Province in Shikoku, the smallest and least visited of the five main Japanese islands. Perhaps that accounts for the tranquility and mysticism of his paintings which feature flowers, butterflies and dreamy-faced women in kimonos.
Although Tchinai is now in his sixties, he’s only exhibited in Europe a few times before (all of them in Paris, starting in 2002), so it’s surprising that his work manages to combine a Japanese aesthetic with a western sensibility.
Tchinai himself attributes this to his Paris experience. ‘I can clearly see the many ways in which exhibiting in Europe has influenced my work. I am now looking forward to see how Londoners will respond to my paintings, and how exhibiting in London will inspire my work in the future”, he says.
The gallery’s signature concept is to show art alongside interior pieces, so the paintings are displayed alongside a range of furniture, lighting and ornaments designed to complement the Japanese/Western feel of the paintings.
I was impressed by the intensity and precision of Tchinai’s work, though I found it disconcertingly decorative. But there’s no denying Tchinai’s technical ability and the lush colours and other-worldly air that haunts his pictures give them plenty of impact. Seen together in the rich setting of the gallery, they give the sensation that you’ve strayed into the luxury flat of a London-based expat.
I was late getting to this exhibition – it’s actually been on since November and closes on the 25th January. If you’re thinking of going, the gallery is open Tuesday-Friday 9:30-6 and Saturday 10-6.