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SIGHTS : Powerful Impression Created With Simple, Elegant Structure : Hiroko Yoshimoto's 'Four Seasons' is a series of narrative paintings that have a spiritual quality.

June 15, 1995|JOSEF WOODARD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

For some years now, Hiroko Yoshimoto has been a prized asset to the Ventura art community, as a teacher at Ventura College and a thoughtful artist. There is often more than meets the eye with her work, entailing conceptual streams of thought beneath the purely visual allure.

That is certainly the case with her current show at Ventura College in a too-short run ending Friday. Yoshimoto, who has been on sabbatical this school year, showed her installation titled "Four Seasons" in Tokyo and Osaka last fall, and brings a smaller version of the show to the two separate galleries on the Ventura College campus.

Yoshimoto's show--really a cohesive installation piece rather than a series of separate artworks--takes up two galleries and yet, like much of her work, has a lightness of being and a sense of calm focus that belies the scale. This ability has served her theatrical set designs well in the past.

In an artist's statement, Yoshimoto calls the exhibition, correctly, a "conceptual narrative painting installation" connected to the "theme of the powerful creative forces that are passed on from one generation to another."

She painted four of her female relatives, who were between 18 and 90, in a mode of unpretentious realism. Their modestly scaled portraits, in profile and with sparse artifacts and decor, hang at intervals between the larger part of the show--a series of semi-abstract oil-on-paper panels, 50 in all.

Big, bold, and yet also delicate in feeling, the panels are set up in a mosaic or horizontal, long, puzzle-like fashion. Oblong color forms suggesting flower petals or other natural phenomena are pushed toward abstraction by the use of nearly flat, primary colors and by the fragmented arrangement of the panels.

These panels are sequential, telling a kind of visual story, given rhythm by the segmentation of the installation. Colors shift according to the seasonal flow, and the cycle continues in a loop as you proceed around the walls from one gallery to the next.

The portraits of women, in profile, serve as signposts along the path, the human, personal element contrasting and interweaving with the more nature-oriented, abstract material. It all hangs together, literally, a projection of life cycles.

Yoshimoto's work here is a rarity: a conceptual installation of almost guileless simplicity and instantly appreciable elegance. Her sense of overall structure and attention to telling details--such as the carefully chosen objects and settings for her subjects--add up to a quietly spiritual, yet powerful viewing experience.

Details

* WHAT: "Four Seasons" art show.

* WHEN: Through Friday.

* WHERE: New Media and Gallery 2 at Ventura College, 4667 Telegraph Road, Ventura.

* HOW MUCH: Free.

* CALL: 654-6468.

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