Kiyoshi Otsuka grew up in Japan, north of Tokyo, and his abstract paintings have in recent years drawn their inspiration from elemental aspects of nature, especially the movement and energy of water. In his newest work, Otsuka now turns to air. Soyo Kaze, the title of the exhibition, is Japanese for soft wind or zephyr.
“There are so many kinds of wind,” writes Otsuka, “air stream, crosswind, dust devil, gale and gust, headwind, sirocco, trade wind, and tornado. The zephyr is the one that runs as a theme through this show. The soft wind gives a feeling of ease and gentleness, freshness but also a constancy-strength and power that inhere over time.”
Many of the paintings in Soyo Kaze are black and white, a few use color. In each one, space and lightness are as important as movement. Otsuka’s work is often gestural, infused with Japanese sensibilities of landscape, but his work also speaks to an American tradition of generous and infinite space.
Otsuka cites Richard Wilhelm’s translation of the I Ching to elucidate his focus in this new exhibition: “In nature, it is the wind that disperses the gathered clouds, leaving the sky clear and serene. In human life it is penetrating clarity of judgment that thwarts all dark hidden motives. The penetrating quality of the wind depends upon its ceaselessness. This is what makes it so powerful; time is its instrument.”