Whenever I Am Silent, All Visual Arts, London
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All Visual Arts are proud to introduce an exhibition of paintings by acclaimed Japanese artist, Masakatsu Kondo. Whenever I am Silent is a meditation on the artifice of nature, exploring the space between the perceived  and  the  real,  occupying  AVA’s  large  warehouse  space  in  King’s  Cross  with  a  series  of  compelling   landscapes. The exhibition includes a wide range of his recent work, from still, unsettling landscapes inspired by traditional Japanese composition to the more lyrical new works being exhibited for the first time at AVA.
Masakatsu  Kondo’s  paintings  draw  on  the  natural  world and symbolic imagery of contemporary media; landscapes that adhere to the imagined, idealised notion of how they should appear. Kondo opens up an inquisition of the world presented  to  us,  particularly  within  an  urban  metropolis  where  ‘natural’  landscapes   are architectures of the imagination. Michael Wilson suggests that the world imagined by Kondo, though ‘recognisably  an  interpretation  of  our  own,  is  subtly  but  demonstrably  out  of  step  with  observable  reality.’   Pitting the sublime against the mundane, Kondo constructs subtly enhanced and engineered scenery suggestive of a peculiarly modern sense of isolation.

Kondo’s  landscapes  draw  their  inspiration  not  from  life  but  from  reference books, taking their cue from geographically accurate and scientifically impartial material found in topography, geology and gardening manuals. As such, the natural world that he constructs is an abstraction of reality, a composition of impossible landscapes; the sky a brilliant blue, the mountains tall and lakes deep, yet lacerated from reality the images seem unsettling in their perfection. Inspired by these encyclopedic images, Kondo produces paintings that are bound up in memories, landmarks rather than landscapes. These evocative scenes elicit an uncanny sensation of familiarity and a quiet retrospection that reminds the viewer of a long forgotten place. These landmarks become mnemonic triggers for nostalgic images of the natural world, drawn from film, advertising and our own memories. Developing  on  these  themes  of  memory  and  authenticity,  Kondo’s  new  paintings  elicit  a  more   lyrical  encounter  with  nature  and  juxtapose  cultural  experience  with  the  environmental.  ‘Chorus’  references   the symbolic status of mountains in Japanese folklore and their counterpart in the European architectural tradition of cathedrals, both finding divinity in scale and structure.

Kondo’s  work  exposes  the  contemporary  conflict  to  establish  true  authenticity  in  a  world  in  which digital reproduction  and  enhancement  are  the  everyday.  Our  expectations  of  ‘nature’  are  misshapen  by  the  promises   of contemporary media, complicating our perception of the real and ultimately provoking a deeper sense of dissatisfaction. This melancholy speaks of a yearning to experience a relationship with our environment that lives up to the idyll of memory. Kondo attempts to capture this evanescent sensation in his paintings, promising fantasy yet acknowledging the inadequacy of reality. Whilst the artist exposes the artificiality of this relationship, we remain blighted by our pursuit of a utopian dream.

Drawing reference from such disparate sources as European Romanticism; the intricacy of traditional Japanese artists such as Hokusai, and contemporary film  and  advertising,  Kondo’s  work  reminds  us  of  the   enduring struggle to establish an equilibrium between man and nature. His paintings depict a hybrid of our cultural sublime and the facsimile of nature orchestrated around contemporary urban development. This Romantic motif is not only a reminder of the transience of being, but an entirely relevant call to face up to our role in this dynamic: his work is not merely a Romantic conceit, but a declaration of intent.