Arts Inside Heavy Lines
posted by November 16 at 9:30 AMon
In this portrait by Roger Shimomura, a young boy—a stand-in for himself—finds himself painting the tar-papered barracks of a Japanese internment camp, as well as the Idaho landscape in the distance. Shimomura was in a camp from age 2 to 4, but this isn’t based on a memory. It’s a projection of his adult self backwards, a foreshadowing that this camp will always edge his way onto his canvases.
Shimomura’s show at Kucera through December 22 takes up the entire first floor of the gallery. I’ve always been a little undecided on his work, feeling that his heavy black cartoon outlines contain the heavy emotional content of the work in a way that’s slightly uncomfortable. All that rage refusing to roar. It’s using pop backwards, not to flatten affect but to heighten it in relief. Looked at another way, I suppose the lines seem about right for imprisonment.
When I visited the gallery yesterday, I was won over to their range. Kucera pointed out in particular a nice detail: that the shadowy portraits—the ones where the black oozes out of its outlines and into the subjects themselves—take on nuclear overtones.
This one’s called Bad Dream:
This one is Shadow of the Enemy:
In this one, Shimomura goes right for it and asks, Would you have done it to Ichiro?