About the Show
Togonon Gallery is very pleased to present Crosscurrents - juxtaposing Asian American artists with international artists from Asia. The goal of the exhibition is not to present an in-depth survey, but rather to showcase an initial effort, which explores how current global art aesthetics, socio-political events, rapid communication, and technological advances have influenced art making for these seven participating artists.
John Y. Chang
John Chang’s art exists at an intersection of cultures, and presents a sharp contrast between the background of a segment of torn-up history in which he once participated and the foreground of the present pop culture and consumerism in which he is currently involved. He blends and unifies Eastern and Western influences and techniques using abstracted writing forms that are Western in appearance, but created with the brushes, papers, textures, and brush strokes traditional to the Far East.
Chang has exhibited in galleries across the U.S. including Kauffman Gallery at Shippensburg University, PA; Porter Square Gallery at Art Institute of Boston; Communication Arts Gallery at University of Wisconsin;Dana Hall Gallery at Wellesley; and Fresh Paint Art Gallery at Culver City, CA.
Born and raised in Shanghai, China, Chang earned a BA in Decorative Arts and Design from Shanghai Light Industry and an MFA in Visual Art from the Art Institute of Boston. He also studied with the well-known Chinese artist Xu Bing. Chang lives and works in Los Angeles, California.
Kira Greene's paintings and drawings negotiate the duality and dichotomy of her existence as an Asian immigrant woman in America. Many paradoxes have led her to combine the rigidity of patterns with the imagery of desire in the female body. In her most recent work, she replaces the body with the images of lusciously styled food while heightening the complexity with the mixture of patterns and icons derived from various Western and Eastern sources.
Born in Seoul, Korea, Greene now lives and works in New York. She received her BFA from San Francisco Art Institute and her MFA from School of Visual Arts. She has exhibited extensively in New York and San Francisco at Nathan Cummings Foundation, Cheryl McGinnis Gallery, Artists Space, SOMArts Cultural Center and Sikkema Jenkins & Co. Her latest work will be shown at the Bronx Museum of Art in the exhibit, “Bronx Calling: the First AIM Biennial.”
Grace Munakata’s paintings suggest a nonlinear narrative, using varying degrees of abstraction and multiple references. Near and far can coexist without transition. “Our past, fragments of stories, and sensations inform present experiences; as adults we needn’t jettison the what ifs of childhood and growing up. Who we are and become incorporate these shifting perspectives.”
Munakata was raised in a Japanese American home in Monterey, California, where Western and Japanese objects and customs created a seamless, though disparate, collage. Critic Victoria Dalkey recently wrote, “Surrogates.. seem to be caught in an endless state of becoming, departing, returning, pausing in their travails…In this mélange of images, things became other things …where patterns and fragments of images mix with abstract markings and, in these newest works, recognizable subject matter.”
Munakata studied Art at UC Davis, working primarily with Cornelia Scultz, Manuel Neri, Wayne Thiebaud, Ralph Johnson and Bob Arneson. She received her MFA in 1985. She is currently a professor of painting and drawing at CSU East Bay in Hayward and resides in Berkeley, CA.
Ben Needham’s paintings consist of networks of painted strands of hair. Starting as simple linear elements, he transforms the hair into abstracted systems. Renderings of flesh and blood are stripped from the images and the use of unnatural color further alters the once familiar image. Hair, with its references to portraiture, is intimately associated with our bodies. The absence of flesh and facial features suggests an incompleteness, as with memory loss or a fragmented dream.
Born in Vietnam and raised in NYC, Needham now lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has exhibited in the Bay Area, New York, Berlin, Japan and Slovenia. He completed his MFA in painting at the San Francisco Art Institute and received his undergraduate degree in the studio arts at Skidmore College in New York. Needham also studied art and art history at Parsons Paris School of Art + Design in France.
Mitsu Okubo's work utilizes the crass and abject humor to explore the transformative elements of the body’s relationship to its basic needs and desires. His work utilizes collage, printmaking, and drawing to investigate how these tendencies are influenced by an over-saturated consumer culture of which we are a part of.
Okubo received his Masters of Fine Arts degree in Printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute. He is the recipient of the Merit Awards Scholarship from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he received his Bachelors of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking. His work has been exhibited in several galleries across North America. Recent exhibitions include group shows at Togonon Gallery-Art Pad SF, Shooting Gallery, Space Gallery, and the Diego Rivera Gallery as well as solo shows at the Kearny Street Workshop and Arc Gallery. Okubo lives and works in San Francisco, U.S.
Philippine artist Norberto Roldan is best known for his signature assemblage pieces constructed from found and appropriated objects and images. Roldan’s works are referenced on the notion that objects and images have an inherent life of their own and are not predisposed to lay wasted in the dustbin of history. Found objects and found images acquire validity precisely through being found, re-constructed, re-framed and assimilated into a context relevant to the present.
Roldan’s “Everything is Sacred” ascribes to a layered reading of religion in contemporary society, which springs from a psyche where institutionalized religion co-exists with politics and commercial zeal; where shopping malls are accommodated with Chapels; Catholic cathedrals are circumnavigated by amulet vendors; and, revolutions that topple governments are immortalized through statues of Mary the Holy Mother.
Roldan has exhibited extensively in Asia including Hongkong, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines. In 2010, he was invited to exhibit in the Festival of Independents at the Tate Modern in London, England. Roldan has also shown at the Dahlem Museum in Berlin and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, U.S. His works are in the collections of the Singapore Art Museum, the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Japan, the Deutsche Bank collection and numerous private collections. Roldan studied Fine Arts at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila and his MFA at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. The artist lives and works in Manila, Philippines, and is currently the artistic director of Green Papaya Art Projects.
Much of Gerardo Tan’s recent work involves exploring issues of representation through collages and collage-based paintings. By working with images mined from mass media, they become representations of representations in an endless recycling of copies.
Often, Tan combines appropriated images from other artists’ works of different styles and eras with commonplace images. He also paints over digital prints or prints over paintings to create a complex matrix of collisions between the abstract and the familiar, painted and printed matter, the hand-made and the machine-made.
These explorations are informed by the artist’s deeply conceptual background that allows him to deal with the painted surface as an arena for probing concepts of authorship and personal style.
Gerardo Tan received his Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of the Philippines, and his Master of Fine Art from the State University of New York in Buffalo, where he was a Fulbright scholar. He has exhibited extensively in his native Philippines, as well as in the United States, Singapore and Germany where he was part of a landmark exhibit of contemporary Philippine art entitled Bastards of Misrepresentation, curated by Manuel Ocampo, at the Freies Museum in Berlin. His works are in the permanent collections of the Singapore Art Museum, Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Castellani Art Museum in Niagara, New York, and the Burchfield Art Center in Buffalo, New York.