Gallery Show: 妖し展 [Ayashi Exhibition] @ Arts Rush, Daikanyama

Featured Art and events

Gallery Show:  妖し展 [Ayashi Exhibition] @ Arts Rush, Daikanyama Gallery Show:  妖し展 [Ayashi Exhibition] @ Arts Rush, Daikanyama

The Coming Together of the Pulse & the Tremor

Featured Art and events

The Coming Together of the Pulse & the Tremor The Coming Together of the Pulse & the Tremor

The Fiercest Raveling

Featured Art and events

The Fiercest Raveling The Fiercest Raveling

Sakura Blossom Season

Featured Art and events

Sakura Blossom Season Sakura Blossom Season

Gallery Event: Tsuru Textiles Festival 2014

Featured Art and events

Gallery Event:  Tsuru Textiles Festival 2014 Gallery Event:  Tsuru Textiles Festival 2014

妖し展 [Ayashi Exhibition] including cut paper artwork by Patrick Gannon

The Japanese / English dictionary I use defines 妖し [Ayashi] precisely in the following way:

attractive, bewitching, calamity

I cannot think of a better description for art, and the process of making art. Both the act and the result seem to be charming chaos (verb/noun) to create charming chaos (adjective/noun). Attempts to impose order, logic, or structure are all so much fairy dust and illusion.

It is fortuitous then, that such artwork is perfect for Arts Rush’s 妖し展 [Ayashi Exhibition], opening this Wednesday the 13th of August. I’m thrilled to have been invited back for my second group show at Arts Rush (Neiro was the first). 8 artists in total will be showing a wide variety of strange, ominous, and beguiling artwork in a variety of mediums and techniques. I’m confident that the exhibition will be mysteriously amazing (or amazingly mysterious!).

Suspiciously, I shall not be in attendance this time. I hope that you will be, though, to witness the weirdness and beauty for your self.

Artists include:

the details:

妖し展 [Ayashi Exhibition]

dates: Wed. August 13 – Mon. August 25, 2014

times: 11:30am – 8:00pm [doors shut 5:00pm on Mondays, closed Tuesdays]

place: Arts Rush, 1F 2-14-10 Ebisu-Nishi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 〒150-0021
tel: 03-3770-6786
gallery: website
directions: English map
directions: 地図

日付: 2014年8月13日(木)〜 8月25日(火)
時間: 午前11:30時~午後20時 [ 月曜日は午後5時閉店 火曜日定休日 ]
住所: 〒150-0021 東京都渋谷区恵比寿西2-14-10 トゥワォン代官山103
電話: 03-3770-6786
ギャラリー: ホームページ
アクセス: 地図

妖し展 [Ayashi Exhibition] including cut paper artwork by Patrick Gannon

The Coming Together of the Pulse & the Tremor cut paper art on kasuri textile by Patrick Gannon

size: 13.8 x 7.3 inches / 350 x 185mm
medium: cut and torn washi and chiyogami paper on Kurume Kasuri Textile
click the image or here to Turn up the volume

It doesn’t happen very often, but some days the ideas come almost too easily. The Coming Together of the Pulse & the Tremor, for instance, is a collaboration between my cut paper artwork and the gorgeous traditional indigo and patterns of Tsuru-san’s Kurume Kasuri textile.

Mere moments after I’d been invited to work together on the exhibition and incorporate the fabric into my work (a first!), I knew what the theme of the artwork would be: Collaboration!

It’s like walking through a low doorway and banging your head on revelation.

After all, the ways in which people and concepts relate to each other, positively, negatively or ambiguously, has often been a theme of interest to me. Internally or externally, strengths may build upon strengths in a harmony of action and thought. Discord detracts from the whole, pitching into chaos. All in much the same way that the correct colors and layers of paper can, with skill and luck and intent, come together to create an image; then inside that image, a flood of emotions and ideas.

At the same time that I was tossing around ideas for this piece, I was also working on some art for the Neiro (Tone) exhibition at Arts Rush Gallery in Tokyo. The ideas of tone and collaboration bounced off each other and swirled together into a semi-musical concoction based on images of sound waves and heart beats.

Portrait of Lady in Green cut paper art by Patrick Gannon Detail: flautist

Portrait of Lady in Green cut paper art by Patrick Gannon Detail: acoustic telepathy

The Fiercest Raveling cut paper artwork by Patrick Gannonsize: 8.5 x 23.8 inches (approx.) / 215 x 605 mm (depth 20 mm)
medium: cut paper, washi and chiyogami on stained wood

While I cannot claim to be mother (or father) of dragons, your confusion would be forgiven based on how many have slithered through PaperCuts recently; whether forming from the foam of a waterfall or relaxing at O-hanami.

Truth be told, I was more than a little nervous to start drawing these reptilian beasts. It’s not that I don’t like the wyrms, mind you. I do. They’re charming. It’s more that I really, really, very much didn’t want to make a bad dragon. And it is so very easy to draw a bad dragon. In junior high school, I scribbled out dozens of terrible drakes blasting fire at adventurers, burning villages, or rending hapless knights to bits with claw and teeth. There are many brilliant dragons in art both old and new, but like their equally fantastic cousins the unicorn, it’s more than a little bit of a challenge to make these beasts one’s own. How does an artist imbue such a long-standing symbol with personal meaning?

It helps that the Cats & Dragons Exhibition, for which this piece was originally conceived, had such a unique theme. It takes a pretty fervent imagination to juxtapose kittens and reptiles so massive they would make a t-rex soil it’s undies.

Over the course of a few months, I went through a dozen different concepts of varying levels of awfulness before alighting on an idea, or rather a query, that made my brain grin. Where does reality begin and fantasy end?

Which is more real: the solid, physical and mundane, or imagination, spirit, and raw emotion?

The cats at the bottom of the piece are connected to the dragon, cobbled together from tenuous strands. Are they the earthly avatars of the great beast? Or is this colorful drake nothing more than the playful fighting spirit of a litter of kittens. Also yes, the visual pun about cats and string is entirely intentional.

The Fiercest Raveling, sketch cut paper artwork by Patrick Gannon

Visually, it is always fun to play around with solidity and intangibility. The dragon has weight and density to it. The cats are monochromatic, slightly immaterial; they are inconspicuous relative to the colorful bulk overhead.

The color of the wood is inspired by traditional Japanese 屏風 (Byōbu) screens, which were often painted on top of gold leaf.

As an added bit of whimsical symbolism, the eyes of the frolicking felines are reflected in the sharply ovoid shape of the dragon’s scales.

The Fiercest Raveling, detail cut paper artwork by Patrick Gannondetail: teeth and claws

The Fiercest Raveling, detail cut paper artwork by Patrick Gannondetail: kitten rumble

The Fiercest Raveling, detail cut paper artwork by Patrick Gannoniridescence

Sakura Blossom Season cut paper art by Patrick Gannonsize: 6.2 x 9 inches (approx.) / 158 × 227 mm
medium: cut and torn washi and chiyogami paper on wood panel
private collection / commission

Delicacy and power are not two words which are often associated with each other. The blossoms of the cherry tree [桜の木 / sakura no ki] for example, bring to mind fragility and impermanence. Dragons, on the other hand, are all fire and claws, shimmering scales rippling over sinewy muscle, terrible in their magnificence.

Still, there is a subtle and quiet power to the blossom which, having come untethered from its branch, glides slowly on the wind, inevitably and inexorably to the dirt below. It is nature’s gentlest way of showing us that all beauty must whither, all life must end, all things shall eventually fade.

The dragon’s roar may be muffled by the whisper of a blossom touching earth.

detail:  Sakura Blossom Season cut paper art by Patrick Gannondetail: teeth, scales, and hair

Sakura Blossom Season is the second of two commissions arising from last year’s Kickstarter Calendar campaign. It’s always a pleasure to work on commissions and to be prodded to go to places in one’s art which one might not travel to if left to one’s own devices. It’s a mind and world expanding experience, and it helps to keep the work fresh.

Below, you can see how awfully loose and incomprehensible my sketches can be.

I should take this chance to remind everyone that there are still calendars available, and since it’s June (and the ¥en has dropped nicely compared to the dollar, I’ve shaved a bit off of the price:

Read the rest of this entry »

Photographic Evidence of Tsuru Textiles Festival 2014 久留米絣つるフェス第2開催TsuruFest 2014 Participants

This past weekend saw the culmination of collaboration known as the Tsuru Textiles Festival 2014. While not the first time I’ve visited the lovely city of Kurume, Kyushu, Japan, it was certainly the most extensive. If there’s one thing I can say about the creators and crafters of Kurume Kasuri Textiles and the visitors to Gallery Earl Gray, it is that their enthusiasm is vivid and contagious.

The Kasuri making tradition dates from the Edo period (mid 18thC), and is an ikat dyeing technique utilized originally by farmers to make everyday clothes that remain comfortable in every season. For me, the most intriguing aspect of this group of creators – and what ultimately drew me to the collaboration – was their desire to mix the traditional with the contemporary. While many of the patterns are time-honored classics, the colors and the construction of the clothing embrace modern aesthetics in a natural, elegant, and beautiful manner.

A small bunch of pics and explanation below the jump.

For all the pics from the event, check out the TsuruFest Flickr album

Photographic Evidence of Tsuru Textiles Festival 2014 久留米絣つるフェス第2開催TsuruFest 2014 – paper lantern

Read the rest of this entry »

Tsuru Textiles Festival 2014 久留米絣つるフェス第2開催click here or image for Poster PDF

Untold eons ago, when icy winds sliced across the arctic landscape and man and beast froze to death mere feet from shelter and the month was called February, I met some very talented textile crafters while accompanying my work at Acros Fukuoka. We chatted for a bit about art, paper, and fabric, and they mentioned possible future collaborations.

Like the fresh and fertile breath of Spring, that collaboration has arrived in the form of Tsuru Fest!

2014 will see the second annual Kurume Kasuri Textile festival in the city of Kurume in Fukuoka.

Kurume Kasuri Textiles Website

I’m excited (!) for a couple reasons

  • Collaboration: I’m experimenting with combining Kasuri textiles with cut paper! I’ll be working small at first, but if this works out, who knows where it could lead.
  • More Collaboration: I’ve got some super-secret weirdo projects that, if they work out, will use some of the traditional Kasuri designs and patterns in cut paper.
  • The Kurume Kasuri people are super-nice & super-talented
  • I get to do a Demonstration on Saturday!
  • Workshop! Sunday!
  • Wine! Gallery Night from 7pm Saturday night
  • This:

Tsuru Textiles Festival 2014 久留米絣つるフェス第2開催Actually, more bashful than excited…

Come by and enjoy the textiles, sewing, tradition, and paper! I hope to see you there.

the details:

Tsuru Textiles Festival 2014 | つるフェス第2開催

dates: Thurs. May 29 – Sun. June 1, 2014

times: 11:00am – 6:00pm [closes 17:00 on Mondays, closed Tuesdays]

My Demonstration: Saturday, May 31, intermittently

Workshop: Sunday June 1 from 1:00pm (reservations required / max 20 people )

Gallery Night (with Wine!): Saturday, May 31 7:00pm~

place: Gallery Earl Gray | Fukuoka-ken, Kurume, Tōrimachi 111-18
tel: 090-3419-0447
gallery: website
directions: map

日付: 2014年5月29日(木)〜 6月2日(日)
時間: 午前11:00時~午後18時 [ 月曜日pm5:00閉店 火曜日定休日 ]

デモンストレーション: 5月31日(土)

切り絵ワークショップ: 6月1日(日) 限定20名

Gallery Night (with Wine!): 5月31日(土)「PDFを見てください

住所: ギャラリーアールグレイ | 福岡県久留米市通町111-18
電話: 090-3419-0447
ギャラリー: ホームページ
アクセス: 地図 Google 地図

Tsuru Textiles Festival 2014 久留米絣つるフェス第2開催click here or image for Poster PDF

Tsuru Textiles Festival 2014 久留米絣つるフェス第2開催

音色展 [Neiro / Tone Exhibition] including cut paper artwork by Patrick Gannon

Those of you who follow my adventures on the various social media websites might recall my trek to Tokyo nearly a month past, for a not-so-top secret meeting. During my time there, I was introduced to one of the more intriguing gallery spaces I’ve seen in Japan, Arts Rush. Cozy and eccentric, the space reeks with atmosphere. Think: Japanese goth (more Through the Looking Glass, less horror) mixed with Steampunk, with just a hint of Tokyo modernity and a love for hand-made quirk. In other words, a very suitable ambience for my work.

I’m thrilled to have been invited to join the group exhibition 音色展 [Neiro], which translates as “Tone”. The kanji characters for this word are great; they literally translate as “the color of the sound”, which I might just have to use as a title to a piece of art someday. The exhibition also includes 7 other artists.

Unfortunately, I can’t make the trip to Tokyo this time, but I certainly hope to be able to do so soon. This is just the first of two exhibitions in May/June; I’ll let you know about the other in the days ahead.

In the meantime, please stop by, enjoy the unique gallery and shop, maybe pick up some new artwork, and drop me a line to tell me about your experience.

the details:

音色展 [Neiro / Tone Exhibition]

dates: Wed. May 21 – Mon. June 2, 2014

times: 11:30am – 20:00pm [closes 17:00 on Mondays, closed Tuesdays]

place: Arts Rush, 1F 2-14-10 Ebisu-Nishi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 〒150-0021
tel: 03-3770-6786
gallery: website
directions: English map
directions: 地図

日付: 2014年5月21日(木)〜 6月2日(火)
時間: 午前11:30時~午後20時 [ 月曜日pm5:00閉店 火曜日定休日 ]
住所: 〒150-0021 東京都渋谷区恵比寿西2-14-10 トゥワォン代官山103
電話: 03-3770-6786
ギャラリー: ホームページ
アクセス: 地図

音色展 [Neiro / Tone Exhibition] including cut paper artwork by Patrick Gannon

Illumination Comes In On the Breeze cut paper art by Patrick Gannon

size: 6 x 4 inches (approx.) / 150 x 100mm
medium: cut washi and chiyogami paper on wood
private collection / commission

Let’s pause, just for a brief moment, to breathe in how beautiful the background blue paper is. It’s not possible for me to give the washi paper-makers of Japan enough credit for their amazing work. Before my knife even came close to this, it was a piece of art.

There are times when inspiration comes from a thousand different sources, blended together into a purée of ideas, then strained down to a… hm. I was planning on using a food analogy to explain the immensely complex filtering and evolution of a universe down into a singular concept, but nothing apt comes to mind. Perhaps you can help me out?

Other times, a single conversation can kick off a train of thoughts that lead inexorably to a destination. Such was the case here. Illumination Comes In On the Breeze was created as a commission where everything I needed to jump into sketching was included in a single email. The only concrete detail was the love of dark blue. Everything else was subtext.

Subtext and somewhat gelatinous owlishness.

Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of Lady in Green cut paper art by Patrick Gannon

size: 10.6 x 13.8 inches / 270 x 350mm
medium: cut and torn washi and chiyogami paper on wood
private collection

I’ve often been asked why most of the artwork I create features weird and quirky creatures, spirits, or animals rather than, say, people. There are really a couple reasons for this.

The most basic is that I don’t actually sit down with the intention of drawing (when I sketch) beasts. In my mind I’m drawing a feeling or a complicated amalgamation of things that have been bouncing around inside my skull. In the act of translation from abstract idea to concrete paper, these odd shapes are born.

The second reason is more intentional. Our eyes are trained, through experience and genetics, to see anthropomorphic shapes and people everywhere. When we do see these “people”, we often empathize with them and want to feel a more personal connection. The first question on our lips is “Who is this, and what is their name?”. In much the same way that it can be difficult to see past a real person’s face to their interior motives, it can also be challenging to move past the painted portrait to recognize the concept underneath.

Recently, I’ve come to embrace this challenge and dabble with “portraiture” a bit more. The quotation marks are there because, at least so far, these have not been portraits of actual “people”. Like the non-homo sapiens in my work, these are more representations of natural forces, ideas, and emotions.

The Lady in Green, for example, is a woman, certainly. A woman who is growing in self-confidence and recognition of her own power. This growth manifests botanically, organically spreading, rising, and flowering. Even the paper used in her clothing is shot through with actual plants creating that beautiful play of light and dark greens.

The face and hands are from two layers of chiyogami paper. The top is a sakura blossom pattern – another call out to the natural world. Under that is a layer of gold – which, admittedly, I was afraid to commit to at first (fear is often a good sign when making art). Now, the way the light shifts and the face transforms as one walks past the piece is one of my favorite aspects.

Here are some details from the work (which in itself is one of my most detailed works):

Portrait of Lady in Green cut paper art by Patrick Gannon Detail: face

Portrait of Lady in Green cut paper art by Patrick Gannon Detail: collar

Portrait of Lady in Green cut paper art by Patrick Gannon Detail: hands

Portrait of Lady in Green cut paper art by Patrick Gannon Work-in-progress: white collar

Portrait of Lady in Green cut paper art by Patrick Gannon Portrait of Lady in Green, framed

Finally, a quick page of sketches for a small piece which I’m working on right now. Enjoy!

Portrait of Lady in Green cut paper art by Patrick Gannon Work-in-Progress: spark

Asahi Shimbun newspaper article about Acros Fukuoka Exhibition

Many artists do not enjoy talking about their work. In a perfect world, the work would speak for itself and no further exposition should be needed.

I rather enjoy talking about my artwork – which is probably apparent by the length of my blog posts, and the eye-rolling of my wife. One of the most fascinating aspects of showing my work – particularly any work containing hints of ambiguity – is listening to the interpretations and stories spun by the visitors. Often, it contains hints of the original vision, filtered through the eyes of someone who has seen a drastically different world than myself. And then there are the times when their perception is entirely alien to my own intentions. And that’s fine too.

Mind you, I’m not claiming that talking about our work is easy. I long ago realized that thinking too literally about the work makes it stale and stiff. I try to leave room in my own mind for mystery. So, when it comes time to explain the work, there have been occasions when I don’t have a clear answer. Why is there a turtle on the cloud? Because some part of my brain told me that was exactly the right image in the right place. Going back in one’s own mind later and deciphering the symbolism is a compelling process.

For a real challenge, I recommend explaining the work in a foreign language. Preferably one which you are not entirely fluent in. It’s amazing how concise and focused the explanations get when an expansive and vague vocabulary isn’t there to fall back on.

Such is often the case when I show my work here in Japan. A few weeks ago, Acros Fukuoka kindly granted me a space for an exhibition. By happy coincidence, an editor from the Asahi Shimbun, Mr. Shunsuke Nakamura wandered into the gallery. He returned the following day to interview me in Japanese and snap a few pictures. It was intriguing to translate my comments back into English and discover what I had said. Happily, nothing too ridiculous.

I hope you’ll enjoy our attempt at translation:

Asahi Shimbun –Saturday February 15, 2014
A Profoundly Mysterious World of Cut Paper Art – American artist holds a washi and chiyogami cut paper art exhibition at ACROSS FUKUOKA
A collection of cut paper art created by Patrick Gannon, a 42 year-old American national residing in Fukuoka, is now being exhibited in the Message Foyer gallery on the 2nd floor of ACROSS FUKUOKA in Tenjin, Fukuoka.  Over 20 unique cut paper art pieces radiate a mystical feel in the venue.
Gannon was born in New Jersey in the US.  The literature major came to Japan for the first time right after college graduation. He later returned to the US to study Art in graduate school, where he first encountered cut paper art.  After coming back to Japan and spending 5 years in Tokyo, about 3 years ago he relocated to Fukuoka, hoping to lead a more relaxing life at a slower pace.  Now he spends his time creating cut paper art and occasionally teaching.
His art is mystic and mysterious.  It takes you deep inside forests and to the bottom of dark Oceans, where one can see floating spirit-like creatures or colorful dragons, whales and horses, all intricately and precisely cut.  Gannon has a strong interest in myths and fables but his art is nothing like what you imagine you would see in books concerning such subjects.  They are creatures shaped by his thoughts and mind.
He uses mostly Japanese handmade (washi) and patterned papers (chiyogami) for his art.  “They are so beautiful that I fell in love with them” said Gannon.  His cut paper art is sometimes glued atop pieces of natural wood.  “I hope that, when people see my artwork, they can each see something different and unique which expands their imagination” said Gannon looking at his collection of MAKAFUJIGI 「摩訶不思議」 cut paper art.  (by editor, Shunsuke Nakamura)

And here’s the original Japanese:

朝日新聞 2014年2月15日(土)
摩訶不思議な世界 切り絵に - 米国人作家、和紙・千代紙で作品展 アクロス福岡
使うのは、ほとんどが和紙と千代紙で、「本当に美しい。和紙にフォーリン・ラブです」とギャノンさん。輪切りにした木に切り絵を施したものもある。作品群の摩訶不思議な世界に、「見る人それぞれに想像をふくらませてほしい」と話している。16日まで、入場無料。 (編集委員・中村俊介)

Acros Fukuoka Exhibition

« Older entries