Two figures greet viewers entering Long Eclipse at Amos Eno Gallery in Bushwick, the first New York City solo show by Nagoya-born and New York-based multidisciplinary artist Kahori Kamiya.
“Blooming Flow” is the artist’s vision of Venus. In 2005, Japan’s Fuji Sengen Shrine commissioned Kamiya to craft an idol honoring Konohanasakuya-hime, the cherry blossom goddess of Mt. Fuji. “Blooming Flow,” though, is all the sculptor’s own. Kamiya’s thumb strokes remain imprinted on clay plumes that rise from her bosom, painted with acrylic and metal leaf and dappled with amethyst. A mortal of clay and polyurethane hovers behind her in the wall-mounted “OMG.”
Long Eclipse presents Kamiya’s first body of paintings. The artist earned an MFA in sculpture from Tokyo’s Nihon University of Art in 2005, and a second MFA in fine arts from the School of Visual Arts in 2009. Her extensive sculpture and performance practice informs the genre-bending paintings across Long Eclipse, particularly the titular work — a large scene lined with kimono sashes, selected to represent both the umbilical cord connecting baby and mother and Kamiya’s Japanese heritage.
Within the painting, an electric green woman tries and fails to kick through the picture plane. Two bulging eyes peer at a gaping void, echoing a solar eclipse, where her breast should be. Kamiya struggled to produce milk for her second child just before the pandemic. During it, she worried about protecting her kids, and herself, as hate crimes against Asian and Asian-American people skyrocketed and discriminatory glances became playground routines.
Layers of collaged foam, resin, and feathers do breach that plane, though, encouraging viewers to explore varied vantages. Through works like these, Kamiya conveys her accrued wisdom and experiences without the weight of their pain. Pure abstractions across the way, like a freestanding animist sculpture and textured paintings, ground Long Eclipse further, rewarding devoted viewers with playful discoveries where chance and foam meet in successive nooks.
Even without a defined form, those abstractions are as much offerings to Mother Earth as the show’s opening work. Each is mounted or framed with pine to suggest the traditional light wood of a shrine. Shinto belief says pine trees in particular hold the spirits of gods and goddesses, who use their branches to enter Earth.
Flashes of gold leaf throughout reference kintsugi, the art of mending broken ceramics with gold, making their imperfections beautiful. Between these glimmers and depths, Kamiya transmutes grief and angst into playful, powerful offerings.
Kahori Kamiya: Long Eclipse continues at Amos Eno Gallery (56 Bogart Street, East Williamsburg, Brooklyn) through March 26. The exhibition was organized by the gallery.