Criticism by Henry C. Brinker
Henry C. Brinker
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Depth images beneath gold
The unfamiliar alternates with the familiar.
On one hand our experiences are confirmed for us, on the other we are unsettled, or at least surprised,
by the strange and alienated images before us. From an art-historical perspective, the work of the Japanese artist Rin TERADA appears to be an aesthetic fusion project of Far Eastern philosophy,
German Art Informel and contemporary performance installations, the aim of which is to provide us
with an overall holistic experience.
Thus, a first glance at the fine sheen of the picture’s surface beguiles us with an auspicious promise
TERADA’s works aim to seduce us.
We can, however, only grasp its true nature when we consider the deep underlying strata beneath
the finishing layer.
TERADA presents us with the resplendence of precious gold, effectively combining it with solemn black.
The unwitting observer, overwhelmed, is immersed in wonder at the sumptuous, gleaming splendour.
But at the same time, the suggestive energy of the picture is not diminished by the fine lustre of the gold.
Rather, TERADA develops his pictures through the slow and painstaking building up of many different layers, which give the works a formal and substantial structure and depth.
Encaustic techniques also play a role, providing a three dimensional relief effect which lends the panel a sculptural monumentality.
So as we stand in meditative contemplation before one of TERADA’s works, the bewitching gold slips imperceptibly into the background.
The way is cleared for a view of enigmatic, deeper structures which allude to secrets that the pictures
hold within themselves but are reluctant to reveal.
Thus the ubiquitous gold fulfils the function not so much as that of a luxurious finishing,
but of an exquisite, enveloping cloak.
The real treasure is preserved, and is present as the intimation of a message concealed deep down
beneath many layers.
We know this technique from European artists such as Yves Klein or Arnulf Rainer. Daniel Richter also worked with visual process- related picture creation.
In TERADA’s works there is an effect of transcendental power.
His art continually strives to touch upon the sacred nature of religious cult objects.
In conversation, the artist explains the way in which different materials and objects are included in the process of creating a work and how they are, as it were, ‘absorbed’ by the energy released through the creation of the picture.
In the end, this process of creation as a great synthesis is for us, the public, partly visible or to be
surmised as a concealed mystery in the finished work.
This Japanese artist does not eschew symbols and signs of Zen-Buddhism.
Strangely, we sense the time transcending effect of these archaic motifs, even though we cannot really decode the underlying symbols.
The encoded messages tell of maternity and love, death and resurrection.
As if by magic, the visible signs correspond to the process of the creation of the picture.
Just as the picture itself documents the layers of becoming and receding, the layering and the new creation, so the Zen symbols describe that which the pictures hold within their hidden depths.
Finally, after we have been able to see, intuit and feel the true wealth of the multi-layered composition,
we return to the surface and read the picture with its signs and references in a completely new way;
until that is, the TERADA picture challenges us once again to discover its still hidden, unknown and unfamiliar secrets.
Henry C. Brinker
(English translation Yvonne Vender)
Authenticity through Repetition Art as Liberation
T“I live between creation and destruction.”
Carefully calculated symmetry and the rhythmic beat of breath and scream are the artistic techniques of the antipodean, Rin Terada.
His art is that of incorporating sound and meditation into the project, in which the creator steps outside himself, comes face to face with, and rediscovers himself.
During a three-hour project, he will be painting onto 108 canvasses, all with vertical black lines superimposed with metallic shimmering fragments of criss-crossing lines, like musical notes.
Over a hundred times, the same act of eruption and destruction – authenticity in an age of mass production; perfection attained through the constant repetition of the same movement.
What is planned is in principle always the same circle.
Sometimes his movements are jerky, sometimes he completes the circle with one sweeping movement
of his wide-outstretched arm.
As if in fury, the artist splashes the paint onto the canvas once again, obscuring one of the circles. Exhausted, he throws the remaining paint straight from the bucket onto the canvas, and rubs it in.
For the Japanese painter, the line itself is, contrary to European tradition, an artistic phenomenon and
motif of artistic conflict, since the line becomes part of the surface, within which many things occur.
Thus, Terada`s artistic struggle with the interior of the line only appears to be a paradox.
In Japan, written letters have always had the function of pictures.
Terada also used white to paint over his `Seelenbild`(`Picture of the Soul`), which similarly consists of a sequence of lattice-like vertical lines and circles, bound by a long gold line.
In `Himmel und Erde` (`Heaven and Earth`), the axis is formed by a long horizontal central line which he was able to draw only by running from one end to the other.
The upper area of the picture represents Earth, the lower, Heaven, as if one were observing a mirror
image of a landscape.
Much Zen philosophy is contained in all this.
“Here I am, and beside me is my reflected self.
Heaven is neither an after-life nor divine, but the reflected self.
You have to bring out what is in your head, and then contemplate what is there.
Only then can you comprehend it,” says the artist.