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Written by Satoshi KOGANEZAWA   
Published: July 09 2009

fig. 1 "Boundary Landscape I" (2009); pencil/paper, 90cm in diameter, courtesy of Roentgenwerke AG, copy right(c) Ryozo TSUMAKI

     I am looking at a landscape depicted on a circular paper as if I am seeing something through a telescope. The picture, which looks like an ink painting at first glance, gives us an extremely unrealistic impression. Also, in this work, there is nothing that can be clearly described. For example, there are a number of peaked mountain-like things, which are depicted as if they are heaving upwards while melting. In this picture, the curving lines of drawings are emphasized by the circular paper on which they are drawn. The drawings make us feel as if they are moving continuously, which seems to evoke for us a primitive image of a landscape before it is formed into its present state.

     In the solo exhibition entitled “Ryozo Tsumaki: Boundary Landscape” (Roentgenwerke, 05/Jun/2009-27/Jun/2009), Tsumaki has succeeded in expressing a dazzling image of a landscape which seems to be difficult for us to describe, but he does so accurately and in a beautiful way using the concept of displaying round works. As Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres showed when using circular painting effectively in his work named “Turkish Bath” (1862, Louvre Museum), round works are effective in making viewers feel as if they are looking into the subjects drawn. As Tsumaki stated in the exhibition leaflet, “In creating works for this exhibition, by painting on circular papers I tried to express a boundary which plays a role as a window between this world and another world; worlds which are divided by a thin film”, his works make us, the viewers, feel as if we are standing between the two worlds separated by a window.

     Throughout this exhibition, we can recognize that Tsumaki has created the exhibits distinguishing clearly between two types of works; one is drawn on a round paper and another is on a square paper. In contrast to the series entitled “Boundary Landscape”, which is of the former category and whose images are depicted by using parts of lines of circular papers effectively, in his other series named “ZONE”, which is in the latter category, the subjects are expressed as independent things located in the center of the works without relying on the shape of supports.

fig. 2 "Boundary Landscape II" (2009); pencil/paper, 90cm in diameter, courtesy of Roentgenwerke AG, copy right(c) Ryozo TSUMAKI

     When I saw Tsumaki’s works for the first time at the group exhibition named “The Labyrinth of Lines II - Melodies Created by Pencils and Black Lead -” (Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo, 07/Jul/2007-09/Sep/2007), a painting in which he depicted an oval space like a lake surrounded by mountains made a strong impression on me. Regarding the “Boundary Landscape” series, the most interesting point for me was that such a space was not depicted in most of the other works. For example, let me introduce the work entitled “Boundary Landscape I” (pencil/paper, 90cm in diameter, 2009) [fig. 1]. In this work, he depicted such a space to the viewers’ left, in the center of the picture. Nonetheless, it seems there is a significant change from this work to the “Boundary Landscape II” (pencil/paper, 90cm in diameter, 2009) [fig. 2]. In the “Boundary Landscape I”, the empty space plays a role in creating a uniformity throughout this work, which effectively gives us a robust image. In contrast, the “Boundary Landscape II” evokes for us an uncertain impression since we cannot find its core subject due to the lack of such a space. I suppose such a change of image of Tsumaki’s works from the shaped to the unshaped, from the centripetal to the diffusive, and from the static to the dynamic, as described above, is a significant shift in his vision of the world which he has been trying to build up through his creations. Also, his works lead me to predict that his dynamic drawings will come to generate a bolder image, as if the drawings swallow everything depicted in the paintings, and this will continue to such an extent that there will seem to be nothing expressed in his pictures.

     Certainly, Tsumaki’s works cannot be understood easily by viewers. Indeed, it may be that his creations seem familiar to us since he uses pencils as painting materials, which most of us have probably used. Nevertheless, it seems difficult for us to grasp what is depicted in them and to understand the stories in them. Nevertheless, you may have already recognized that, the message of Tsumaki’s works, if any, will have to be created after viewers see his paintings. In other words, the subjects of his works are vague things that have not been given their specific figures and have not been named in this world yet. Therefore, his paintings always succeed in giving us a completely realistic image.
(Translated by Nozomi Nakayama)

Last Updated on June 13 2010

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