Contemporary Works by Tsuyoshi Maekawa and Ewen Henderson at S|2 London

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This July, S|2 London will present an exhibition of works focusing on the 1970s period by Japanese artist Tsuyoshi Maekawa in Gallery One, and the work of British sculptor Ewen Henderson (1934-2000) in Gallery Two. Click the image above to launch the slideshow.

Tsuyoshi Maekawa
20 July–21 September | London

Ewen Henderson
20 July–21 September | London

Contemporary Works by Tsuyoshi Maekawa and Ewen Henderson at S|2 London

  • Tsuyoshi Maekawa, Untitled, 1971
    Tsuyoshi Maekawa was admitted as a member of the Gutai Art Association in 1962. A protégé of Jiro Yoshihara, Maekawa’s work combines burlap and oil paint, pushing the boundaries of canvas-based painting. Following the dissolution of the Gutai Art Association in 1972, Maekawa begins to experiment in new ways with materials that had already formed part of his Gutai period work. Here in Untitled (1971) , the artist has eschewed the use of burlap, painting with plywood and cutting new forms and shapes into the material. Exhibited at the Art Court Gallery in Osaka in 2017, this painting plays with the idea of relief and relaxes the constraints of the canvas.

    Tsuyoshi Maekawa
    20 July–21 September | London
  • Tsuyoshi Maekawa, Untitled, 1975
    Untitled (1975) displays Maekawa’s fascination with the undulating folds of burlap and the three-dimensional potential of the canvas. This work perhaps best echoes Yoshihara’s often quoted maxim from the Gutai Manifesto: ‘If one leaves matter as it is, and simply presents it as matter, it begins to tell us something and even cries out’.

    After the dissolution of Gutai in 1972, Maekawa began to make use of a sewing machine, rather than using his bare hands. In Untitled, the delicate fabric is placed in tension with its contorted folds.

    Tsuyoshi Maekawa
    20 July–21 September | London
  • Tsuyoshi Maekawa, Untitled, 1975
    Maekawa used his sewing techniques to weave delicately rendered biomorphic shapes into his canvases. Divided into nine sections, Untitled (1975) is punctuated by graded hues of blue acrylic and gentle slits on its surface, giving the work a majestic delicacy.

    This masterwork of Maekawa’s post-Gutai practice was first exhibited at the Ueno Royal Museum in Tokyo in 1975, before travelling to the National Gallery in Wellington and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.

    Tsuyoshi Maekawa
    20 July–21 September | London
  • Tsuyoshi Maekawa, Untitled, 1977
    Untitled (1977) was exhibited at the Shinanobashi Gallery, Osaka in 1977 in one of the first public displays of Maekawa’s work, offering the opportunity for an audience in the hometown of Gutai to see new forms of material abstraction.

    The painting displays sewn darts, or pin tucks, pulled taut over the surface of the canvas and draws attention to the sinewy quality of Maekawa’s work of the 1970s. In 2017, it was exhibited in a retrospective entitled In Commemoration of The Publication of Maekawa and Maekawa II, 2017 at the Osaka Court Gallery.

    Tsuyoshi Maekawa
    20 July–21 September | London
  • Tsuyoshi Maekawa, Untitled, 1977
    In Untitled (1977) , acrylic paint has been applied to sewn and pleated burlap. The variation of pressure creates a meditative elegance often absent from material abstraction and marks out Maekawa’s post-Gutai practice as one of greater delicacy. Fascinated by the strength of burlap, the Osaka-born painter seeks to present the material as a site of reflection.

    Tsuyoshi Maekawa
    20 July–21 September | London
  • Ewen Henderson, Collared Jar, 1980
    As the earliest work by Henderson on show in the S2 London exhibition, Collared Jar (1980) is significantly lighter in colour and stands as a more orthodoxly shaped vessel. The honeycombed ridge on the lower half lends a somewhat delicious quality to the jar, which undermines its ornamental mould.

    With strong echoes of early Mediterranean pottery, Collared Jar combines the familiar with the eccentric. It was exhibited at the British Crafts Centre in 1986.

    Ewen Henderson
    20 July–21 September | London
  • Ewen Henderson, Megalith, circa 1994
    Derived from the Greek for ‘big stone’, the term ‘megalith’ designates a stone that forms either part of a prehistoric monument or a monument in its own right. In the mid-1990s, Ewen Henderson executed a series of megaliths, many of which were exhibited at the Economist Plaza in London in 1994.

    Differing from his vessel-shaped works, Henderson’s Megalith series took the medium of clay to new heights. Collector and curator of the current retrospective Ewen Henderson: Late Abstractions at the Marsden Woo Gallery, Anthony Shaw, claims that his megaliths ‘have all the power and majesty of the ancient stones’.

    Ewen Henderson
    20 July–21 September | London
  • Ewen Henderson, Sculptural Form, 1998
    Sculptural Form (1998) is representative of Henderson’s freehand technique and his complete defiance in his latter years against conventional shapes or forms. Neither vessel nor megalith, Sculptural Form bears no clearly defined features pushing ‘fluxed earth’ (clay) to its expressive limits.

    Ewen Henderson
    20 July–21 September | London
  • Ewen Henderson, Lightning, 1997
    The jagged configuration of this work not only recalls the discharge of lightning but also evokes Henderson’s own fascination with richly textured surfaces. Far from being a work of traditional ceramics, Lightning (1997) depletes all functionality from the medium of clay, placing greater emphasis on its interlocking colours and sinuous forms.

    Ewen Henderson
    20 July–21 September | London
  • Ewen Henderson, Wallscape, 1997
    In Wallscape (1997) , the scaly patina and range of colour reveal a textured surface and a sense of depth which appears at odds with its tablet shape. The powdered glaze lends it the appearance of an artefact but one where pastel colours and serpentine forms take precedence.

    Ewen Henderson
    20 July–21 September | London
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