Thursday, October 25, 2001 to Saturday, December 1, 2001

    • Thursday, October 25, 2001
    With "Uncomfortable Surfaces" in 1994, the Japanese artist Yuichi Higashionna established the domestic motifs he uses in his current work. These refer decidedly to the field of appearances, where aspirations towards a higher social status (and/or their failure), a search for quality of life, as well as community values tend to show through in the aesthetics of private space. In his installations, Higashionna invites us to take part in the illusory comfort of the domestic, an ambiguous place of refuge where the walls, independent of us, maintain in an internal logic the various elements of multiple small dramas. Walking the Window, the title of the exhibition presented at Gallery 101, draws attention directly to the notion of limit. An uncomfortable surface of appearances is here half-opened by windows that present us with (among other things) the unsettling strangeness of certain floral patterns, the preciousness of lace embroidery, and the wavy pattern of a fabric. The fact that these only awkwardly hide dark spaces that threaten to permeate through them results in a disturbing feeling. Some of Higashionna's window tableaux show lace fabric poorly veiling a black abyss that nevertheless is spilling out of the frame. This corruption risks affecting the prefabricated desires and "materialized" stereotypes which feed the home market. The bright colours and stark lighting employed by the artist contribute to the impression of potential danger, but also act as indicators of a possible exit. Here, excess, in its intensely coloured and luminous form, is literally opposed to the firmly enclosed and regulated domestic environments that belong to both Japan and North America. The desire to escape from this confining framework is continuously contradicted by a subjective projection on this space of the internalised image of private comfort. The often graphic quality of Higashionna's "drawings" makes visible the diagrammatic reality of the image that inhabits us and that we often wish in turn to inhabit. But to exceed, like to retain, is an illusion here belied by the aesthetics of the "screaming camouflage" that displays and deflects it in the dazzling and alluring excess of colour, light and pattern. Like the heroes of a post-decorative liberation play, the "household" contrivances of a domestic diversion find themselves on hold, waiting for a new assault against the limits of order and established values. François Dion Translated by Jen Budney