Xinla Bansho Forest of Exponentials

From Japan with More Art

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Expressing one of the Buddhist beliefs, Japanese word Shinrabanshou (spelled Xinla Bansho and translated to Forest of Exponentials for the occasion) refers to everything and all things in the universe. Choosing such a title is ballsy and ambitious on the part of a Los Angeles artist and curator Kio Griffith. In this installment of works by Japanese artists at Paul Loya, the pool of talent is expanded to include a handful of expats and gallery artists. In the dim-lit, tightly packed space where the ceiling is seemingly within reach, the cosmos explored by these artists turn idiosyncratically inward, creating sui generis images and objects that come from socially peculiar and personal places.

Chihiro Minato’s photographic prints, accompanied by the installation, which give viewers an insight into the production method, expand and collapse the time-space continuum starting with a rudimentary, analog process. Sections of images from art books are neatly cut out in multiple sizes of circles and transplanted onto various scenes. The transported flat spheres spin like disco balls in suspension, resulting in a formation of a micro planetary system that exists exclusively within an individual picture plane.

Kio Griffith (Japanese American) and Macha Suzuki (issei, meaning first generation Japanese immigrant) adeptly infuse humor and irony in their respective sculptures. Rounding up three layers of concentric circles (though the outermost layer is incomplete, which must be by design*) by hanging 47 vinyl records, Griffith presents a personal mandala frozen in an eternal pause. The installation appears to pay homage to the music of the past, but a closer inspection reveals completely eradicated surfaces. The grooves are gone. So sing some blues. Country will also do if one insists.

Suzuki’s color-popping, bubble-gum-bursting floor sculpture literally turns Verdugo mountains on its head. Supported by meticulously constructed yet precarious tetramerous and octagonal scaffoldings, the dioramic abstract interior of the local mountainous range turns out to be fantastically magical. Yet there are no mythical creatures lurking around in the cavernous abyss, and worse, underground water is nowhere to be found. The beautiful and mysterious land that is Southern California is, unfortunately, not suited to sustain life — a sobering tale told in an ever more optimistic tone.

In addition, Shinnosuke Murakami’s kitchen utensil sculptures made with grocery receipts are notable, speaking to the mundane domestic life and the reality of marital partnerships in Japan. So are delicately crafted objects by Minako Kumagai. Primarily made with paper materials, the transformation of humble and modest origins into the covetable home decors for multimillion dollar homes on the hills is a veritable alchemy. Though plagued by the poor lighting job, Shingo Francis paints the quiet, reverberating earnest color fields that is universal in its meditative appeal.

Give time and take in each piece in the show — because everything in the cosmos counts.

Xinla Bansho/Forest of Exponentials at Paul Loya Gallery is currently on view until July 7, 2015.

All images by author for editorial purposes only.

*It has been pointed out to the author that the innermost core is missing as well. The mystery is enhanced.

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