REIJIRO KUDO       工藤 礼二郎

REIJIRO KUDO – Layer and Transparent layer

TANIGAWA   Atsushi
Philosopherof Aesthetic

  We might be able to define that the abstract painting means that anything doesn’t exist pointed by name over the painting. We can say that this is the painting what we can’t reacknowledge any objects we can see in this world over the picture. On the other hand, it is also the characteristic of the abstract paintings to look at some figurative with motility like lines, belts, points, forms, or vortex, flow, dripping, bounce and undulation. That is why we have been introducing the distinction between the “cool abstract” which is the quiet abstract with the geometric figurative and the “hot abstract which is the expressive abstract with motility of brush stroke and touch. Of course”, it doesn’t mean that all abstract paintings are categorized in the dualistic theory. In facing on the various and colorful works by abstract painters in the exhibition -Adventure on surface- which we organized, we can find some paintings imaging this dualism. Although at the same time we will feel that this simple distinction has been expired in general.

  The works of REIJIRO KUDO are notable existence in this means.His works show us just black or white picture, and it doesn’t let us feel not only geometric figurativeness but also any kind of expressive motility, It is amazing that the existence of picture which we should say ascetic.

  His works remind me those of Malevich immediately. Through his works like Black Square a black square on white, and  White on White a white square superimposed diagonally on white ground, he denied the art history  which is based on realism, representation and concreteness. That was the movement of suprematism returning to the drawing-board in 1910. Although he aimed to “nothingness”or “desert” fulling with “sense” of non-realism, finally he returned to the figurative painting as he couldn’t stand the barrenness in the 20s, and then vanished from the world of art history. Even if Malevich who devoted himself to Theosophy tried to look at the theosophical light in the white ‘nothingness’, this white or black is white or black just we are expecting. In the case of  White on White , the color of white of ground and square is different, and the figurative is recognized, but there is no more meaning in those two white colors.

  Although works of KUDO look like just black or white overall, they are totally different with works by Malevich. Let’s look at the black surface of his work attentively. We will find that the surface looking like monochrome is the phenomenon of black which is painted carefully with the various color layer without a trace of brushstroke and brush touch. If I adapt his own words, the black color is brought by the color layer and the transparent layer. It is based on the three primary colors, in other words, the theory of colors that the mixture of all colors produces the color closely near to grey or black. He doesn’t reveal what kind of color and medium he uses. But I presume that his delicate and subtle illusions by color layers and transparent layers are brought by oil paint, and also it is the treasure of his ascetic work. When we say illusion, it means that black picture doesn’t come to just black, and paradoxically it brings us the sense that there is a slight difference of colors. The excellent illusion like the light in the dark occasionally emerges from this sense.

  We could image “Color field Painting” that is named by Greenberg, too. The work by Barnette Newman has a “color field” on both side of zip on his large picture.

This color field is composed by not uniform color but also subtle and careful color layers, meanwhile the meaning of his work is just in the combination of a zip and a color field. He doesn’t invest the meaning just in the color field. It is not necessarily incorrect to categorize Kudo’s works in color field paintings reminding works by Mark Rothko, although it is not enough to categorize in a same way because of his creation and process including the ideological background.

  How about Ad Reinhardt who appeared with so-called “black painting” in 1960’s.

His painting looks like a minimal and monochromatic work denying any colors as same as Kudo’s works, but we can comprehend that it is divided in several color fields geometrically by looking at it attentively. This is the effect of subtle layer and transparent layer by unique painter who started from cubism. His careful field structure is very similar with the work by KUDO, but I can’t treat equally them as long as looking at the color contrast or the color division over the matier covered skillfully.

  The “black” works (I call them black for convenience.) painted by KUDO over many years got as close as possible to black by blending colors, and at the same time we might say there is the best part of his works in creating the illusions from which the colors latent in black appear slightly. We can also say that asceticism of works and sensuality of creation are two sides of the same coins.

  Kudo has practiced painting “white” in the same method with “black” recent years. But I wonder if it is possible to make layer and transparent layer in “white”. It is possible to put white paint on white. But when we try to adopt the difference of colors a little bit, we can’t avoid using other colors. The white color will be dull even if we use a painting medium subtlety. In fact, the painter states that he changed oil paint to acrylic paint, since he noticed that “white” works were changed to yellow soon after painting.  And at the same time, he said that he uses not only brushes but also other tools like airbrush and spray gun. However, he will not be able to solve this problem by the difference of oil paint and acrylic paint or tools to use.

  In mixing the three primary colors of light, white light appears, and in mixing three primary colors of paint, it infinitely closes to black. That’s why the white as light will never appear no matter how treat the paint. It is possible to make the layer by superposing white color. We should pay attention to the quotes about color by Wittgenstein who developed the color theory as phenomenology, and he has emphasized in his Remarks on color that the transparency of white is impossible For example, he said that it was possible to be green something transparent but is impossible to be white. If I apply Wittgenstein’s theory to KUDO’s works, I can say that chromatic color has a possibility to be transparency layers, but white has no possibility. It means that white layer doesn’t guarantee the possibility of translucency phenomenon of white.

  KUDO’s “white” works looking like almost monochrome are paradoxically just the track of attempt to take a chance on this possibility. Does the “light” appear from only the “dark”, or can we witness to be created “white light” over the picture? 

Whenever I stand in front of his works, I face in this question.