Akio Takamori and Henri Matisse
Now that everything is installed for our new exhibition, Frank’s International House of Ceramics, I’ve had a chance to spend some time with the new pieces and I find myself returning to the two “Sleepers” by Akio Takamori in the front gallery, and thinking about what Akio said to me about these new works, in relation to his artistic practice:
“Although the sleeper pose is one that I am familiar with, my use of bold, high contrasting colors is new. I keep thinking back to my many museum visits to see the masters like Matisse and how they used color in their paintings.”
I think Akio is absolutely correct in his assessment of the two sleepers he sent to the gallery. In 2004 I held an exhibition of his “Sleeping Figures,” and they featured a more subdued and neutral color palette. His older figures were clothed in shades of blue, black, and gray, or were nude. In contrast, the recent “Sleepers” wear brightly colored and patterned outfits, and Sleeper in Pink Dress even has blue hair!
Akio’s reference to Matisse made me want pull out my old books on the artist. What I found was a clear relationship between the works of Henri Matisse and Akio Takamori. Take a look at a work I found at left, Elena in Striped Dress, which was painted by Matisse in 1937 and is from the Mr. and Mrs. Alfred K. Stern Collection. It features an all-over pattern, contrasting tones of pink and blue, a stylized human figure, and elegant line work. At right we have The Striped Dress, 1937, of the Norton Simon collection, which has similar traits, and a different color scheme. I can see these qualities of these paintings reflected quite clearly in the pair of “Sleeping Figures” we have installed in the gallery.