Image: Kubota Fumikazu,  September , 2014. Acrylic on plywood, 37 × 57 x 1.5 cm. Courtesy the artist.

Image: Kubota Fumikazu, September, 2014. Acrylic on plywood, 37 × 57 x 1.5 cm. Courtesy the artist.


Catalogue essay for Kubota Fumikazu
Five Walls Projects, Melbourne
2–31 May 2014 

The Other Side is Kubota Fumikazu’s second series of acrylic paintings on board, now more geometric and colourful, full of movement, sliding and dancing across multiple planes. This change in Kubota’s practice reveals a distinct shift away from the tightly contained geometric structures of his earlier drawings that explored the darkness of the psyche and the emotional restraint of masculine culture.

While the artist’s fascination with architectural forms remains, his choice of compositional elements is stripped back to the simplest of blocks. Gone are the former elaborations and densely decorative structures. Gone too are the inverted frames of his previous installations. Instead the works are painted directly on layered plywood, utilitarian and distinctly material, yet embedded in the non-objective tradition of Russian Suprematism.

While Kubota has applied modernist traditions to his practice, his interest is less academic and more about splitting the subject — bringing space and light into the compositions, taking what was previously contained, emotional and personal, then rupturing his work with what he calls the difference between ‘over there’ and ‘here’, something he considers unconscious, a symbol of the unknown coming into view.

This idea of feeling within non-objective form can be understood if we look back at Kasimir Malevich’s Suprematism Manifesto. In 1926, Malevich wrote that his art “has produced new forms and form relationships by giving external expression to pictorial feeling … a new architecture: it will transfer these forms from the surface of canvas to space.”

Kubota’s concerns here are to the flexibility of spatial play, the simultaneously inward and outward trajectory of forms in space, which appear to be either manifesting into construction, or deconstructing into distinct elements of some other form, even revealing the hidden components of another previous structure.

On closer inspection, it becomes clear that the alignment of intersecting planes reveals a further rupture in the illusion of depth within the works. The thin bordering of vertical and horizontal lines is woven together, offsetting the centre field to create both an opposition and a counterweight to the sliding blocks.

Kubota’s weaving — something he has retained from earlier works — challenges the viewer’s sense of spatial relations. If, for a moment, we imagine these paintings existing as three-dimensional objects in space, then by following the points of perspective and spatial logic of the planes, it becomes apparent that the scale of these potential objects would be vast: the blocks themselves as levels of entire buildings, the lines as towers punctuating vertically in both directions.

Moreover, the placement of the weaving within these planes disrupts the balance, and in this way comes to represent the intangibly ‘unconstructable’ — an impossibly emotive experience. While these works may not be metaphorical, as the artists states, they do reveal his interest in visualising the potential representation of dissolving borders within the inner plane both architecturally and emotionally — freezing a moment in transition, where the viewer must decide in their own mind how movement is located in time and space.

To give feeling in this sense, we can see Kubota is placing the simultaneously inward and outward projections of potential architectural forms in space within the borderland of emotion.

His interest in ‘boundaries between here and there’ can be understood in the way we artificially create divisions between objects and bodies, between the inner world of experiences and the outer world of constructions, a state of semblance that affords us the opportunity to understand our true relations to existence and to each other.