A little while ago, I had the pleasure of visiting and receiving a sneak peek of some of the most recent works of Los Angeles artist couple kozyndan (Kozue + Dan Kitchens) for their upcoming show, Nirai Kanai, (this Saturday at sixspace in Culver City). What I saw were mesmerizing gouache and ink pieces that revolved around the lives and culture of ama, the deep water diving women of Japan, a symbolic subject that reveals the artists' "unease with and love of the modern world".
The images of these women of the sea floating in frigid cold waters topless, carrying the bounty of the sea ashore upon their backs, frolicking together in the crashing waves, or sharing a warm campfire en circle reveal an almost mystical life distant from both modern Japan and the world of the viewer...a disappearing yesteryear where nature, femininity, community and the ocean congregated into a matriarchal society that ran opposite with the rest of Japanese culture. The works have the power to transport the viewer: the taste of the saline air is upon the lips, the stinging ocean chill wraps around the face, yet one can also hear the laughing of the ama against the percussion of the water's waves in a world where a woman's worth was determined by how far and long she ventured into the waters. The artists state, "The world we live in today strikes us as being one of disconnect - disconnected from the natural environment, from nature, and also from one another. In our apartments, in our cars, in our cubicles, we are out of sync with the push and pull of nature's cycle and can pass days without meaningful human contact. This kind of isolation is what made the ama stand out to us so vividly."
With past shows at Giant Robot LA and NYC, Paul Smith Space in Tokyo and The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, UK, kozyndan's recent works are an evolutionary departure of their earlier, immensely popular illustrations, paintings and panoramics. As much as we're admirers of their past work (many of which hang proudly upon our apartment's walls), these newest non-digital pieces reveal a growing maturity and depth worth investigating. During an extremely busy weekend for Los Angeles art gallery shows, Nirai Kanai stands out as one of the "must see" shows this year.
kozyndan – Nirai Kanai sixspace 5803 Washington Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232 January 20 – February 17, 2007 Reception: Saturday, January 20 from 6-9pm