– November 16th
Opening Reception: October 10th 6-8 pm with Live Painting 7-8pm
+81 Gallery: 167 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 12-7pm
Plus 81 Gallery presents a series of paintings by OHGUSHI
with the artist performing a live painting session for the opening.
Watercolor painting dates back to the Paleolithic era, and by the time of Egypt, it was supposedly already being used in manuscripts. But, it’s said that it didn’t truly become recognized as an art until Albrecht Dürer produced his masterpieces during the Renaissance. Watercolor and gouache are the two most common types of paints used, but OHGUSHI’s use of India ink adds a touch similar to that found in Eastern ink paintings to his dynamic yet delicate technique of painting on French alkaline paper spread on wooden boards. His latest series ‘Botanical’ does a particularly wonderful job of fully drawing upon the charm of his chosen materials.
Many believe that watercolor paintings have short lifespans. However, the staying power of the paint comes down to the colorant, and some paint manufacturers now claim that their products are permanent and will not fade no matter how much time passes. *1 We must understand that, from a standpoint of artistic merit, painting done in watercolor are by no means inferior to their cousins done in oil.
One of the other major themes of OHGUSHI’s artwork is “Bijinga,” or images of beautiful women. Though such pictures were made in Japan since ancient times, they didn’t really become widespread among the populace until the rise of the Ukiyo-e
woodblock prints during the early days of the Edo period. Today works such as Hishikawa Moronobu’s Beauty looking back
and those of Kitagawa Utamaro are synonymous with the genre. The line of Bijinga
artists continued into the Taisho period through the work of Takehisa Yumeji, Kaburagi Kiyokata, and Uemura Shoen. It survived in the modern era through the style of artists such as Yamaguchi Harumi and Pater Sato in ‘70s and on into the new millennium in the images of young girls created by Makoto Aida and Yoshitomo Nara. Unlike Western style portraits, OHGUSHI’s Bijinga
series demonstrates his unique style born of a contrast between dynamic, forceful ink strokes and an eye for delicate watercolor blotting passed down from his cultural heritage.
One of the most prominent things about OHGUSHI’s background that makes him unusual among watercolor painters are his origins as a street artist. He started out painting portraits in parks in the countryside, and there are still stories of how his paintings grew in popularity until they were drawing long lines of people. The solid technique he acquired in those days made him one of the few artists who are truly capable of painting live. His performances attract hundreds of fans from all over Asia and are truly captivating once beheld. OHGUSHI is now highly acclaimed and has many devotees to his work from Japan, China, and Hong Kong. He has also provided memorable images for advertisements as well as the annual campaigns of the Isetan chain of department stores, the New Year’s campaign of McDonald’s Japan, along with global packaging for CLINIQUE. The amount OHGUSHI’s artwork has been used in ads has given it a premium value, and his original paintings now attract a high price in Japan and Asia.
Now it is my pleasure to be able to inform everyone that they will have the chance to see OHGUSHI’s live painting performance in New York. This will be his first exhibition in the Big Apple, so I’m very interested in seeing how his work is received.
+81 Gallery Founder & Curator
“Living a glorious life – from the very beginning – there is no such person. Everyone comes against struggles and only those who do not escape and face the problems head-on can get “there.” I wanted to make pieces that would offer a drive and spirit in the everyday life to those who take the first step. I painted the tranquil light that’s spilling over and filtering through the trees in the botanical series. I wanted to create the feeling of the fluttering of the heart, which happens when one looks up into the radiant sky. The paintings of the beauties, where I painted the faces of women, give us gentle pleasures through both the supple and elegant make-up and expressions. I have gathered the pieces that would turn on the warm light in your heart on an ordinary day.”
*1 Holbein has stated that their watercolor paints are permanent.