In Your Arms I'm Radiant: Chie Fueki & Joshua Marsh
5247 W Adams Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90016
In the third of three innovative exhibitions featuring pairs of artists whose work is sometimes overtly, sometimes inadvertently linked through the intimacies of living together, Shoshana Wayne Gallery highlights the paintings of Chie Fueki and the paintings and drawings of Joshua Marsh.
If one of the ways in which we’ve exacerbated the environmental crisis has to do with assumed hierarchies in which animals, plants, and the objects of the earth are valued principally for how they serve human beings, the so-called apex species, then Chie Fueki’s art is tonic— and timely. The filmmaker Agnès Varda once noted that “If we opened people up, we would find landscapes.” Fueki’s paintings, in which the outlines of human figures can contain green leaves or midnight blues, is a case in point. Made during the pandemic in the especially lambent light of dawn or gloaming, Fueki’s new body of work radiates emotional tones that twine longing and pathos.
Human figures, architectural graphics, symbols, and pattern fields coexist as a pluralistic, integrated painted organism. Pervading her figurations are radiant lines of energy, colorful swaths of abstract ornamentation, and variant but simultaneous perspectives. None is more central or more important than the others. There is even a democracy of material and method in Fueki’s approach to art making. What we call her painting is really a collaborative endeavor between wood panels, mulberry paper, glue, rubbings, drawing, collage, brushwork, pour, and acrylic paint. The realms we often assign to “inside”— our emotions, for instance, or our living room— and “outside”— the landscape, other people— have no clear boundaries in Chie’s work; they are one and the same. In most of the paintings in this show, inside— Fueki’s Hudson Valley apartment with its many curiosities— and outside— Mt. Beacon in the near distance—present themselves in an alliance with decorative motifs. The result is a radical, non-logocentric realism, where objects, figures, world, imagination, ornament, and lines of energy harmonize in a multi-perspectival mutuality we might recognize as actual experience.
A body of Joshua Marsh’s small— 5” X 4”—graphite drawings share their image repertoire with two sets of paintings roughly five times the size of the drawings. In both, we see still life arrangements of apples, spools of thread, flasks, skulls, drawers, pipes, a bee, occasional scrawled words, and curious image rhymes that link, for instance, the springy wire doodle in one image with the curlicue hairs of a satyr’s soul-patch in another. There are also more ambiguous objects and shadows or ghosts of objects, and nascent faces— and we’re given (by their titles) to connect them to the Faust legend, that drama of lust for knowledge and pleasure, and its tragic repercussions. Often, it seems as though an object is appearing playfully next to the idea it generates. The congeries of images unsettle us; we don’t know how to categorize their roles in this context of conflicted relations. Rather than sating our desire for immediate satisfaction, Marsh’s work insistently introduces strategies of incongruity, perspectival and graphemic play, humor, and restraint that end up intensifying the fulfillment of our looking.
The acrylic paintings generally hew to a color palette of brown, green, grey and blue, with the blues sometimes enacting contradictory perspectives, morphing between sky-like space and the clearer shape of an object. The ambiguities invite our extended attention as our eyes restlessly negotiate the intervallic leaps between conventional (skulls), personal (pipes), and inscrutable (cubes) object-symbols. What invests those symbols with significance is repetition and secrecy. In Marsh’s visual panoramas, our encounters with various symbols offer us the peculiar sense of wild disjunction tempered by meticulous detail. They are never a means for arriving at some predetermined, politically expedient, or instrumental supposition. Instead, we find that we keep coming across human absence and human trace: what we find in the paintings are hauntings.
We see the trace of the human, for instance, in the assemblages of flasks, vapors, and scale levers that are missing their Faustian alchemist. If Faust used alchemy to arrive at answers, Marsh is drawn to alchemy because he’s fascinated by questions, by the processes of transformation. What do we witness in his still lifes but mutability, the apples rotting, the blocks melting into biomorphic shapes. Marsh’s still lifes aren’t still at all. While we watch, they are turning into landscapes.
Chie Fueki (b. 1973) lives and works in Beacon, NY. Fueki was born in Yokohama, Japan, and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. She earned her MFA at Yale University and her BFA at The Ringling College of Art and Design. She is an inaugural recipient of the 2021 Joan Mitchell Fellowship and a recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2022), and the Purchase Prize (2021, 2004), and Rosenthal Family Foundation Award (2004) from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Recent solo exhibitions include the Orlando Museum of Art, FL (2014). She has public artwork at PS 92Q, Queens NY, and HHS Lerner Children Pavilion, New York, NY. Her work is included in permanent collections of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX; Orlando Museum of Art, FL; San Jose Museum of Art, CA; the Hirshhorn Museum, D.C.; and the Pizzuti Collection at Columbus Museum of Art, OH.
Joshua Marsh was born in Pennsylvania in 1973, receiving an MFA from Yale University in 1997 and a BFA from Washington University in St. Louis in 1995. His paintings and drawings have been included within exhibitions at Teckningsmuseet, Laholm, Sweden, and the New Britain Museum of Art, New Britain, CT. In 2015 his paintings were included in the American Academy of Arts and Letters Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts. His paintings and drawings have been reviewed in The New York Times, Hyperallergic, The Brooklyn Rail, and Art in America among others. His work is in the collections of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, KS, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, PA, Woodmere Art Museum, PA, and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
As a Couple: Chie Fueki and Joshua Marsh met in graduate school while studying painting at Yale University in 1996. They have lived and worked together in Brooklyn, NY, next to a wooded preserve in West Chester, PA, and currently in the Hudson Valley town of Beacon, NY. Chie was Born in Yokohama, Japan, and moved at the age of three to Sao Paulo, Brazil where she lived until the age of 19. Fascinated by the appearance of the city from her family’s apartment, Chie would often stand by the window entranced by the patterns, structures, lights, fog and traffic movements of the city. Joshua grew up in Pennsylvania, where he often dwelt around streams, observing the flows, reflections, and intersecting processes that have remained inquiries within his work. Maintaining neighboring studios in all the places they have lived and worked, Chie and Joshua have continuously engaged in close artistic conversation, intertwining interests while exploring their distinct practices.
Written by Forrest Gander