A new conservativism abroad in the land may not play equally well everywhere, but it has some agreeable artistic results. Keith Sonnier is a New York artist best known for oddly compelling abstract wall works made of neon, sparsely festooned with bits of chiffon and other ephemera.
Last year he was in Japan and decided to concoct works from indigenous materials. The results are half a dozen wood sculptures and as many works on paper thematically titled "Tokobashiro." The word, I'm told, refers to the central support in traditional Japanese houses. It not only holds up the roof but is made of some particularly venerable wooden member valued for its own sake.
Sonnier has extrapolated this idea into sculpture typically made up of a couple of logs and a broken board joined by slotting or with pegs in emulation of Japanese building practice. He also fuses the Japanese respect for nature and craft by combining a generally rustic look with a high degree of finish. In "Kintoi," for example, two upright logs are elegantly polished. In other works rude boards are finished with paint or incised calligraphy.
Several examples have phallic overtones that are both humorous and allusive to certain traditional Japanese ceremonials.