Critics’ Picks

Seiji Aruga, le, 2009, paper, 16 x 16 x 2".

Tokyo

Seiji Aruga

Roentgenwerke AG
2-5-17, Nihonbashi Bakurocho, Chuo-ku
October 2 - October 31

Paper, Seiji Aruga’s medium of choice, is ideally suited to his spatial and tactile art. In Aruga’s latest works, his earlier, intricate constructions give way to equally intricate subtractions. From afar, le, 2009, conjures up a partially teleported version of Malevich’s Black Square on a White Ground, 1914–15. The square appears to be carved into the middle of the vertically arranged composition, but a closer look reveals a side view of laterally stacked paper. The perimeter edges and the surface of this recessed inner square are uneven, adding to the concrete and physical texture of the piece.

Aruga is ever mindful of directionality in his works: Just a few years ago, his monochrome constructions had a distinctly architectural feel to them, but his most recent output eschews any resemblance to postmodern cityscapes. Aruga’s 2008 work 1018 brings to mind a composite city skyline complete with tiered skyscrapers; its simultaneously geometric and organically cavernous sequel 1020, 2009, reverses the anticipated upright direction, removing all traces of figuration.

In addition to the punched and layered paper pieces on view, the show also includes several subtle pencil drawings. These take the artist’s spatial arrangements a step further, recalling a single detail from the three-dimensional works. Aruga presents his colorless and minimal world as a paradox. The shadows in the drawings, where modeling is necessarily fixed, project a sense of shifting instability bolstered with every new glance, while the shadows of his three-dimensional works appear set and solid.