January 21, 2020 - February 21, 2020
“Ma” or 間 is a common Japanese word with no specific English equivalent. It can be universally understood as a pause. It is an absence that defines a space, the interior of a bowl. “Ma” is more of an interlude than it is a chasm. One’s understanding of “ma” is driven by her shifting perception as she becomes acquainted with a given setting.
Kuwayama wants to engage this term in a new body of work that includes plaster paintings and site-specific installation of varying mediums. Non-toxic materiality is central to her practice, and nearly every element of her work is handmade: she forages berries or crushes charcoal for pigment, paints with a milk compound, can name the sheep from which she produces her own yarn. Her mindful harnessing of mediums connects Kuwayama’s artistic practice to all other realms of her days. Her creative decisions, for example, affect the world her children inhabit, the world we all inhabit. She expressed that she works through “a process of compression and expansion” where “life spills into art and art spills into life.”
This tendency to scrap compartmentalization is intentional. Kuwayama operates without regard for linear or received narratives often visible in art history. The work she’s installed in the gallery, therefore, develops and commands white walls as well as peculiar structural elements in order to highlight in-between spaces. 間 (Ma) summons us into these interstitial moments of art, so that we challenge our senses to engage with the real as much as the imagined, the created and the approaching.
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.