Hiroshi Senju’s Polar Opposites
Everything can be divided between polar opposites, dark and light, good and bad, night and day, yin and yang, etc. That can also be said of Hiroshi Senju’s return to waterfall imagery in his “Beginnings” exhibition across Sundaram Tagore’s two New York locations on 27th Street in Chelsea and Madison Avenue in the Upper East Side.
After seeing Senju’s blacklight installation in Singapore in 2016, the beauty and immediacy of his work has been on this critic’s radar ever since. There is something both calming and frenetic about moving water, and he is able to capture the picturesque moment like a photographer would, while creating movement and energy like the Futurists did. The high contrast of black and white pigments in his waterfall pieces has always been one their strongpoints, and in these new paintings, that continues to be the case. Although, there are a few canvases with blue backgrounds that are similar in tone and vibrancy to the blacklight, where white pigments appear when illuminated. It is these blue canvases, alongside a few red background works that really showcase what new colors can do to an artist’s work.
Compare them to the paintings of Italian ZERO artists Enrico Castellani and Lucio Fontana where subtle changes in the artist’s palette have significant and lasting changes to the work. By completely changing the color, Senju has augmented the contrast between the water and the earth, reducing the polar opposite of black and white in his other paintings. The color becomes more of a focus, just as the flat red of a Fontana sets the stage for the violent cut that the artist performs to the canvas. Whereas Senju adds the lighter white pigments to soften the work, creating an assemblance of harmony in each work.