Critics’ Picks

Hiroshi Tachibana, Palette, Paper Towel, and Catalog (Magritte), 2014, gel medium transfer and acrylic on linen, 19 3/4 x 24”.


Hiroshi Tachibana

Sprout Curation
1-3-2 Kiyosumi, Koto-ku 6F
May 10 - June 14

For his first solo exhibition in Japan, San Francisco–based Hiroshi Tachibana has fleshed out a new set of ten small paintings. Assembling traces of the subconscious, the works document and stage a phenomenological drama of the visible and the invisible. Tachibana’s unpretentious abstract paintings catch the eye with nuanced, lustrous color schemes exposed by the works’ textures, which resemble papier-mâché and dyed fabric, and thus consciously reflect abstraction’s function beyond the pictorial.

Against the backdrop of the white cube, at first hardly discernable, three bright-scaled works interspersed in the space gradually enter the view. Palette, Paper Towel and Catalog (Magritte) (all works 2014) depicts organic, nonfigurative light-gray and incarnadine color traces that aggregate to approximately geometrical shapes and emerge in an almost-three-dimensional, ghostly presence on a double-toned white ground, which is highlighted by pink and blue speckles. Orange Line with Kiki (Trace) collects clumsy shapes reminiscent of letters or numbers over an unevenly cropped blue-white-patterned ground while entering in a formal dialog with a zigzagging orange line in the lower half of the canvas. In Palette and Palette (trace) a white-graded rectangle is overlaid with flecks of color from found palettes from the artist’s studio, establishing a space-time relationship between site and non-site.

An almost-libidinal attraction drives the viewer towards the soft-glazed sculpted surfaces that result from Tachibana’s indexical translation process. Also in the colorful and more visually articulate Catalog (Magritte) and Kiki (Trace) and Green Painting and Uta’s Math, paint was first applied to uneven polyurethane plates by his daughters, then peeled off and rendered onto the canvas in a lavish spread of gel medium. The appeal of these embalmed skin-like transplantations, which at times recycle older works, is reinforced by their function as shifters—empty signs that are only filled with meaning through the titles that bring in material and souvenir, art and life as external referents.