When I heard there was an exhibition on near Sloane Square of paintings by a Japanese artist who said his main influences were the Dutch and Flemish Masters of the 17th century, I have to admit I was intrigued to see what he would produce. What Yannick and I found when we went to take a look was not a slavish imitation, but an interesting use of old techniques for new purposes.
Masaki Yada says he is trying to rediscover the lost visual language of painters like Vermeer, Jan Van Eyck, and Willem van Aelst as well as Japanese painters of the same era, such as Jakuchu Ito. (If you want to make the comparison, have a look at my post on Jakuchu Ito). This has led him to produce a series of still life paintings with flowers and insects that are inspired by Dutch old masters.
But Yada is also interested in celebrating complexity and chaos, and in finding a coherent structure that allows room for them to thrive.
He seeks to overcome the notion of painting as representation by the intensity with which he paint the details of objects, in an attempt to reach beyond ‘the mere tracing of their appearance’.
He spreads his net wide; in the small show were some large abstracts as well as examples of his representational work.
We found that you really had to study the paintings from close up to appreciate the detail.
Some painting were hard to grasp when seen from a distance but resolved themselves into a fascinating series of vignettes on closer acquaintance.
The echo of old master techniques was disconcerting but entertaining.
And the way Yada contrasts images from nature and technology is fun.
The exhibition is on at the Ransom Gallery in Pimlico Road, a short walk from Sloane Square. It continues until 23rd July and the gallery is open Monday to Saturday 10 am to 6 pm.