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Sono Kuwayama
March 4, 2023 - April 9, 2023


Sono Kuwayama: land(e)scapes (The Geography of Impermanence)

Ki Smith Gallery is pleased to present Sono Kuwayama’s third solo show with the gallery. The exhibition, Land(e)scapes focuses on the concept of impermanence. The show examines land and geology as a means of exploring the space between sameness and difference, real and imagined, empty and full.

The premise of land(e)scapes begins with stones, the shifting landscapes of terra firma, language, and the envisioned threshold of abstraction in ancient limestone landscapes and NYC sidewalks. “Untitled” (hollow rubber rocks), a series of cast rubber rocks is a meditation on emptiness, the hollows that create a shape (not the other way around). Each stone protrudes from the middle of a square. The rounded, almost luminescent amber colored spheres can be read as minimal sculptures creating space through the absence of the subject.

The idea of sameness and difference is further explored in a series of encaustic paintings depicting stones floating in negative and positive space. A solitary stone floats on an obsidian background, or the reverse, appearing on an impasto white field. Handmade encaustic paint adds a dimensionality that transmutes to a sculptural dreamscape.

Another series of over 150 exquisitely rendered watercolor rock and word paintings, portray stones with a fragile endurance. Like the encaustic paintings, all the stones are suspended in an emotive space. The word paintings in both Irish and English illuminate our relationship to our environments and how we perceive and understand the world we live in. These ideas are again examined in “Fragments in the Memory of Place” a soundscape produced by Ivo Hanak, written by Sono Kuwayama, Bob Holman, Larry Kirwan (Irish words) and Kathy Keane (English).

Kuwayama’s view of work as meditation melds beautifully with the tectonic shifts of the earth. Celebrating the eternity and impermanence of stone, Sono bridges conceptualism and organic imagery with her singular and spectacular subtlety.

- Ilka Scobie

Available works

About Sono Kuwayama

Sono Kuwayama, who lives and works in New York City, is a visual artist working with installation through painting, sculpture and video.  She finds fluidity in working between various disciplines so she can achieve the freedom to create without limitation. For Kuwayama, an intimate connection to her materials is essential: “nearly everything she creates is sourced by hand. She forages berries and crushes charcoal to add pigment to milk compound paints while spinning her own yarn and going so far as to identify the sheep that it came from.” (Rebecca Kim, Hypebeast, 2020). The works and installations born of these materials exist in the paradigm of spatial relationships and are often site specific.  


The daughter of artists, Tadaaki Kuwayama and Rakuko Naito, Kuwayama grew up immersed in the art world.  After attending Yale University’s summer painting program, she continued to receive her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1990, where she studied with Jackie Windsor and Judy Pfaff amongst others.  Her works on film about artists include A Night at the Poet’s Cafe, an interview with Agnes Martin and Forrest Bess: Key to the Riddle. Her public art initiative Bringing Back Bowery was celebrated by The Brooklyn Rail, artnet News, Reuters, and NBC.  Kuwayama shows with Ki Smith Gallery and her work is featured in several prominent private and corporate collections.

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