Junko Otsu: The Fantasy World
The Goodrich Gallery
June 2 through June 30, 2013
The Fantasy World of Junko Otsu is inspired by the artist’s genuine life. This solo show contains nearly 20 dazzling oil paintings, including the award winning Wonderland series. Inspired by Otsu’s loyal patronage of the local jazz scene, Love Song VIII is painted with a Technicolor candy palette and pulses with the good-time vibe of happiness and camaraderie. “An examination of these paintings reveals the spirit of improvisation. Wave-like backgrounds become the motion of music or an atmosphere that swirls around the characters. Music, itself a fluid process, becomes a stream flowing among the people and spaces, bringing them together and connecting them.”
Otsu’s visual improvisation on the Wonderland theme swerves to cool blue in Bugs Groove in Blue Moon III, my favorite in the series. The canvas is abundant with vivid, visual rhythm. The insect musicians, jamming amongst blades of grass and vibrant flowers, serenade a beautiful blue moon and are reminiscent of “that late night when, one after another, the fieriest cats in town , still buzzing after their formal gigs, dropped into an intimate listening room to sit in with the house band and you felt like you were floating on air for days afterwards as you recalled the musical ethos that would never, ever be exactly reproduced because a mysterious power seemed to rise up and illuminate the sphere of interwoven improvisation for that extraordinary jam session.”
The impressionistic Jazz Players series contains canvases that are often painted soon after Otsu has thoroughly enjoyed a live performance. The intimacy conveyed in the portraits is a powerful reflection of Otsu’s connection, through music, with some of the most talented performers in town. Chrisword is a mesmerizing “double canvas”. In a demonstration of the spirit of improvisation, Otsu freehandedly cut two flawless canvases into strips and wove them together without certainty that final product would successfully preserve the tenor of the two individual pieces. The resultant work almost seems to bubble up with life, when viewed from different angles and distances.
Junko Otsu remains inspired by the “exquisite and quiet natural background” of her hometown of Ibusuki in Southern Japan, even as her time in the U.S. has influenced her exploration of “stronger and more kinetic styles”. Most of Otsu’s works are oil on canvas. Though, she sometimes uses acrylic in the background to intensify an intended expression. No matter in what style she paints, Otsu’s work will always convey her personal expressions of life.
The Goodrich Gallery is located in the First United Methodist Church, across Ross Avenue from the Dallas Museum of Art. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.