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ART: Ventura County | SIGHTS

Artistic Interplay

Conceptual show explores the link between visual and musical cultures.

April 30, 1998|JOSEF WOODARD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

When the Ventura-based artist Hiroko Yoshimoto officially presents an exhibition, it's rarely a simple unveiling of recent works from her studio.

Rather, she tends to bring together ideas--often elemental ones--and different means of giving form and flow to them.

And so it goes with her show at the Buenaventura Gallery, her first here since 1995. The title "Lines and Signs, Instruments That Convey Abstract Thoughts" refers to the conceptual stitchery linking components of a show. It's about the interconnecting of visual and musical cultures, as well the important influences of nature and language.

On paper, it sounds like a too-full plate of references, but Yoshimoto deploys sense and taste in focusing, and editing, her pieces. It never feels as if the direct appeal of the work is overburdened by ulterior motives, a danger with some conceptual art.

Music has been important to Yoshimoto in the past, and it becomes a critical element in this work, in which the repetitive elements and pattern-based facets of abstraction establish a link to the essentially abstract yet mathematically ordered nature of music.

From the whimsical end of the spectrum, "Goldbird Variations" finds a row of small yellow songbirds festooned with notes taken from Bach's Goldberg Variations.

She also reflects on the innately mysterious process by which squiggles on music manuscript paper are translated into the ineffable stuff of great music. Elsewhere, the nomenclature of language and alphabets, English and Japanese, are amassed and overlapped to points of visual density where specific meaning is artfully obliterated.

In other works, Yoshimoto draws on systems and sequences to generate densely layered pieces such as "Fibonacci," "1 to 2090" and "Binary." With these, the artist alludes to the nature of a continuum rather than fixed quantity.

Nature rears her head in different ways, whether in the painstakingly wrought suggestion of waves in one drawing, or the materials of pieces made from rice paper or, with "Plans," the evocative convergence of graphite, paper and beeswax. With "Elements," five Mobius strips refer to the archetypal elements of life, in nature and humanity.

With this show, Yoshimoto manages to think big, without losing sight of the importance of making art of singular elegance. This art reflects on the nature of the arts, and circles back on nature itself, in one self-perpetuating, happy loop.

In the outer room of the Buenaventura Gallery, works on view include Tracy Smith's enjoyable, colorful junk assemblages. We also find N. Bicarme's timely "After the Rains," a kindly clutch of lines and gestures in earth and flora tones--an ode to spring's springing. From a darker, heavier perspective, Celeste Jaeger shows her sensuous landscape painting, "Red Rock Mountains."

BE THERE

Hiroko Yoshimoto, "Lines and Signs, Instruments That Convey Abstract Thoughts," through Saturday at Buenaventura Gallery, 700 E. Santa Clara St., Ventura. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; (805) 648-1235.

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AU NATUREL: The show in the second-floor gallery at Natalie's Fine Threads features the contrasting work of sculptor Michele Chapin, who fashions sinuously twisting forms in alabaster and marble, and photographer Paul Jenkins, exhibiting images from his travels.

The most immediately striking image is "Lady in the Dunes." Shot in the dunes in Baja California, Mexico, it adopts the Edward Weston-esque ploy of finding facsimiles of female anatomy hidden in the windblown contours of sand, to a startling effect. It looks like nothing so much as a woman's unclad torso, legs and all.

Other images are more romantic, the stuff of sunsets, silhouettes and palm trees. Sympathetic portraits from his travels to India and Nepal elicit interest, but none so much as the fuzzy image of a horseman on a mountain trail in Nepal. The image, of a man whose face is the only element in focus with his horse in motion, seizes the eye as a mysterious, artful action shot.

BE THERE

Photographs by Paul Jenkins and sculpture by Michele Chapin, through May 16 at Natalie's Fine Threads, 596 E. Main St., Ventura. Gallery hours: 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; (805) 643-8854.

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