Life Force - New Works By Kenji Yoshida
10 December 2003 - 14 February 2004
The October Gallery began 2004 with an exhibition of new paintings - including large-scale panel pieces - by the well-known Japanese artist, Kenji Yoshida. This will be his third solo show at the Gallery.
Born in 1924, in Ikeda City (part of present-day Osaka) Yoshida studied art under the great Hayashi Kiyoshi and also Furukido, before those studies were interrupted by the war. Selected for training as a kami-kaze pilot, Yoshida was extremely lucky to survive his teens - though the majority of his close friends were not so fortunate. After the close of hostilities, the memory of the traumatic experience of having walked so near to death spurred Yoshida to throw himself single-mindedly into his art again, and devote himself to a sustained exploration of the life-affirming forces that he had seen so nearly extinguished. From that point onwards the majority of his work has carried the single, most telling of all titles, "Sei-Mei" - the Japanese word for life itself.
In 1964, Yoshida moved to Paris where he has lived ever since, and where he enjoys an enviable reputation both as a brilliant print-maker and for the intense works of oil on canvas that synthesise traditional Japanese gold and silver-leaf appliqué techniques with his boldly original sense of colour. In 1993, the quality of Yoshida's work was recognised when he was honoured to be the first living artist ever to be given a solo exhibition at the Japanese Galleries of the British Museum. During this Autumn's Festival of Canterbury his magnificent octagonal installation, Sei-mei, can be seen in Canterbury Cathedral.
Whilst at first sight these works might appear as quite modern abstractions, examined more closely they reveal themselves to be a continuing series of attempts to depict, in two dimensions, the complex interplay of ever-shifting forces, the evolving result of which we recognise to be the irrepressible force of "life." Yoshida's marvellous canvases can be construed as momentary apperceptions of reality, unique intuitions made manifest by the power of the artist's vision, glimpses that allow his audience access to the serene beauty of an otherwise invisible series of linked progressions. Again, another way to read the still unfolding series of Yoshida's whirling vortices of colour, is as subtle evocations of the repeating iterations of Yin and Yang held balanced in time and space and rendered momentarily visible.
To see available works and biographical details
Africa Informs - Selected Works by Artists from Africa
22 October - 6 December 2003
Radiant Transmission: - Contemporary Masterpieces of Tibetan Buddhist Art
3 September -18 October 2003
In Association with Tibet House Trust, the October Gallery will present Radiant Transmission, a multifaceted exhibition of contemporary masterpieces of Tibetan Buddhist Art and A Long Look Homeward, an exhibition of photographic images of Tibet. These exhibitions, which coincide with a meeting of the International Association of Tibetan Studies at Oxford University, will reveal the rich diversity of Tibetan Buddhist art as this ancient art moves beyond its traditional boundaries and is adapted and sustained by new generations of artists.
Radiant Transmission is the first major exhibition of modern Tantric art ever to be presented in the UK. This unique style of painting has its origins in the Buddhism of Ancient India,which then travelled northwards to Central Asia, Nepal, Tibet and Mongolia where it developed and took root as the Vajrayana or tantric tradition. This highly esoteric form of Buddhism inspires an eclectic and vibrant art, the primary purpose of which is to communicate the tantric teachings through a vision of enlightenment. Tibet became the heartland of this tradition, from the 7th century until the Chinese communist takeover of the 1950s, but today these teachings flourish widely across the world.
Besides a rich variety of thangka paintings Radiant Transmission will also present a collection of miniature, clay, relief images of deities (tsa-tsa)by Peter and Denise Griffin and a magnificent bronze-cast ritual dagger (phurba) of the deity Vajrakila by Richard Williamson, all UK artists, whose works will join those of the other artists from a wide range of countries, including Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia and India. A balanced mix of 'wrathful' and 'peaceful' deity thangkas have been selected with the help of Robert Beer, one of the foremost western authorities on Tibetan thangkas, and himself one of the artists participating in the exhibition. The exhibition will also feature examples drawn from Beer's personal collection of thangkas, widely recognised to be one of the most important collections of contemporary work to be found in private hands today.
Another feature of the show will be photographic works by Gonkar Gyatso (a Tibetan artist resident in London), and a 3-D computer-generated mandala by Edward Henning, an English artist. The October Gallery has also been working closely with Core of Culture, an organisation dedicated to the documentation and preservation of the world's cultural heritage of dance. Their multimedia presentation will present, for the first time in the UK, rare footage of cham, the Sacred Dances of Tibetan Buddhism, still precariously surviving today in Ladakh. Discussion of all the exhibition's elements will be facilitated by a series of lectures, educational workshops and other events at the gallery. Events, films, lectures and educational
workshops accompany the exhibition.
The photo exhibition, A Long Look Homeward, curated by eleven Tibetans at The Tibet Museum in Dharamsala, India, has been made available by the official Tibetan charity, Tibet House Trust, whose chairperson Mrs. Kesang Y. Takla is the Representative of H.H. the Dalai Lama for Northern Europe based at the Office of Tibet in London. The photographs record a narrative and visual journey through Tibet's magnificent past: the invasion, destruction and horrors of oppression, followed by hope and rebuilding in exile and ending finally with an optimistic vision of the future of Tibet.
A Long Look Homeward
Photographic Images of Tibet
3 September - 20 September 2003
2 July - 2August 2003
Arpana Caur - Between Dualities
4 June - 28 June 2003
Stitching Women's Lives
An Exhibition of Sujuni and Khatwa from Bihar, India
7 May - 31 May 2003
Serendipity: New Art from Sri Lanka
19 March - 3 May 2003
As London's first-ever comprehensive survey of contemporary art from Sri Lanka, this major exhibition brought together a wide range of works from Sri lanka, and aimed to open up to UK audiences some of the many different aspects currently contributing to the vibrant artistic life of the island.
Berlin - Contemporary Art from around the Planet
14 February - 28 March 2003
The October Gallery - based in central London - joined forces with Berlin’s Kulturbrauerei to present an exhibition of cutting-edge contemporary art from around the planet, and a programme of associated talks and events. This exhibition, Transvangarde: Contemporary Art from Around the Planet, to be held in the Kulturbrauerei’s Pferdestall Gallery, will provide a platform for a truly international discourse between artists from many different countries, juxtaposing the work of artists and sculptors from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. This touring exhibition has been designed to give an up-to-date sampling of the diverse range of themes and styles that both distinguish and unite leading artists from the many different cultures represented.
Not to be confused with the term ‘transavantgarde’ - a term briefly popular in the Eighties to describe a small group of Italian artists - the Transvangarde - or trans-cultural avant-garde - describes a much broader concept. The idea of the Transvangarde recognises the seminal presence of many non-western artists who continue to play a crucial - though often unacknowledged - role in the development of a vibrant contemporary art-scene that is global in reach. The influential art critic Simon Njami writes, ‘It is clear that the future of art is currently being created beyond the boundaries of the eurocentric vision. In this context, the Transvangarde is a concept that defines the Art of the future, an art created by syncretism and exchange - an art which touches a more comprehensive community.’
For almost a quarter of a century, the October Gallery has pioneered the development of the Transvangarde by providing a prime exhibition space, in the centre of London, where artists from around the planet can exhibit their work. This showing of Transvangarde artists at the Kulturbrauerei, in Berlin, offers an exhibition, within the German capital, that re-affirms the central importance of Berlin’s position as a crossroads for artistic and intercultural exchange. Amongst the artists on show will be Pablo Amaringo (Peru), El Anatsui (Ghana), Laila Shawa (Palestine), Cyprien Tokoudagba (Benin), Elisabeth Lalouschek (Austria), Julien Sinzogan (Benin), Owusu-Ankomah (Ghana), Xu Zhongmin (China), Francesco Rimondi (Ethiopia), Aubrey Williams (Guyana), Jimoh Buraimoh (Nigeria), Manuel Mendive (Cuba) and many others besides.
From Panama to Outback
5 February - 15 March 2003
This exhibition presented a broad spectrum of artists from around the wthe world and included a selection of new works by Australian Aboriginal artists and Amerindian artists from central America