A Steganographic Romance

 

The art of painting consists in the belief that an image depicted by the painterly brushstroke constitutes some kind of truth about the nature of beauty. Throughout the ages, we have come to regard the image that appears on the final, uppermost layer of the canvas as an icon of that faith, receiving and accepting this dispensation of truth.

Yet if the essence of painting resided in the laborious act of filling a canvas with countless brushstrokes so as to conceal the truth of that beauty within the depths of an abyss, where can we find the roots of this stranded beauty, so intimately entwined with the surface of the painting in question?

My first encounter with Akira Ishiguro’s painting was entirely fortuitous. Thrust at me without warning and leaving me disoriented, it took the form of a paradoxical question about the probability of acknowledging the existence of his brand of painting. Whatever the case, I felt instinctively that here was an artist who painted not in order to reveal some truth about the nature of beauty, but rather to suppress it.

nca akira ishiguro ishiguro-ya

Within the rigid, prescribed domain of the museum – a thick stone-walled fortress of self-proclaimed High Art – Ishiguro confronted the canon of classical Western paintings, earnestly scrutinizing each of them in order to learn how the masters depicted their chosen subjects. As if seeking to emulate them, he started making his own paintings in the same vein, populating them instead with the patron deities of Low Art: the beloved cartoon characters from animated films and video games who dared to infiltrate the foundations of High Art’s stronghold. What Ishiguro was seeking to do, of course, was not to try to resurrect these bewitching nymph-like beauties that he has depicted using classical methods. Rather, he invokes the goddesses and angels that inhabit the painting as a kind of icon whose function is to serve as an alibi and a pretext. The comical, often absurd tension that emerges as a result creates a forced layer of incongruity, guiding us towards a premonition of the truth that lies concealed beneath the ultra-thin canvas of the painting.

As strange as this approach may seem, Ishiguro’s art is based on one of the oldest models of steganography, from which modern forms of data encryption and hidden information are derived. Similar to the historical accounts of Herodotus, which describe how secret messages were written on the wooden backing of a tablet before being covered up with beeswax, Ishiguro’s paintings demonstrate the paradox of how it is precisely by being suppressed that a truth can be most strategically conveyed. The myriad of painted brushstrokes in his work are nothing more or less than a ruse that conceals the truth anew, rather than causing it to emerge.

Perhaps, then, what we required of our painters all along was the strength and courage to denounce the blind faith that glorified the depicted image, as well as their perseverance in continuing to suppress what had always been hidden from view. It is this power that Akira Ishiguro possesses: the power to overturn all the aesthetic values that reside peacefully in a world obssessed with superficial appearances, and to render that surface as vividly – and also as romantically – as possible.

 

Hiroshi Minamishima

 

ステガノグラフィック・ロマン

 

絵画が筆致とストロークによって獲得される美の真理であるという信仰。画布の最終の上層に姿を現したそのイコンをして、私たちは真理の降臨を受け止め続けてきた。

 しかしなのだ。もし絵を描くという行為が、何億回という筆致とストロークの果てに真理を世界の深淵へと隠蔽する作業であったとしたならば、絵画の表層を貫いてきたそれまでの美の根拠とは、いったいどこをさまようことになるのだろう。

 私が石黒昭の絵画に突き付けられたもの。それがこうした絵画を絵画と認識させる蓋然性への、不穏にして逆説的な問いかけであったといえるかもしれない。そして、それはまさに絵画とは真理を出現させるために描くことではなく、それを隠すために描く行為であったことを直感させることになった。

堅牢なるミュージアム。あの分厚い石壁によって構築された美の要塞に君臨してきたハイアートとしての名画を相手取り、石黒はそれぞれの描写法を丹念に研究し、それをそのまま踏襲するかのように、ローアートの神々である現代の愛玩のキャラクターを描き、あえてその美の殿堂の根拠に染み込ませてみせる。もちろん石黒は古典的な描法で描いたその妖艶なる美少女キャラクターを息づかせようとしているのではない。絵画をその住み処とする女神や天使のイコンをアリバイや口実として援用しつつ、むしろ滑稽なまでの緊張感を強いる表層への違和感をして、絵画というその超薄の画布に潜められた真理の存在の予感へと、私たちを導いていくのだ。

 そのありようは奇しくも、情報ハイディングの源流ともなったステガノグラフィーの最古のモデルが、ヘロドトスの歴史書に記されるように、木板に書かれた秘文をワックスで隠すことであったように、真理が隠蔽されることによって真理たり得るという逆説を、数億回の筆致とストロークによって、浮上させるのではなく、再び隠蔽させる営為にほかならない。

 描かれたものを英雄とする信仰を破壊し、隠されたものを隠し続ける力こそ、画家に求められるものではなかったか。石黒昭はその力をもって、この表層的世界に安住するすべての価値の転覆を、ほかならぬその表層において、鮮やかに、そして、ロマンティックに示してみせる。

 

南嶌 宏

La Grande Odalisque

2017 Oil on canvas 91 x 162 cm

Madonna col Bambino detta Manonnadel Granduca

2016 Oil on canvas 80.3 x 53 cm

Cupid in a Landscape

2013  Oil on canvas  38 x 72.6 cm

La Jeunesse et  l'Amour

2013  Oil on canvas  63 x 28.7 cm

Innocence

2013  Acrylic and oil on canvas  48 x 38 cm

eros

2013  Oil on canvas  22.7 x 15.8 cm

Victory of love

2013  Oil on canvas  33.3 x 24.2 cm

Venus Anadyomène

2013  Oil on canvas  163 x 92 cm

La Naissance de Vénus

2012  Oil on canvas  85.2 x 135.8 cm

antique taste

2012  Oil on canvas  45.5 x 35.5 cm

Harem

2011  Oil on canvas  35.3 x 27.5 cm

Venus Anadyomène

2010  Oil on canvas  31.5 x 20 cm

Psyché et l'Amour

2010  Oil on canvas  186 x 132 cm

A_Young_Girl_Defending_Herself_Against_Eros

2010  Oil on canvas  81 x 55 cm

Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière

2010  Oil on canvas  100 x 70 cm

Day

2010  Oil on canvas  63 x 32 cm

Evening Mood

2010  Oil on canvas  63 x 32 cm

Dawn

2010  Oil on canvas  63 x 32 cm

Roger délivrant Angélique

2010  Oil on canvas  45 x 38 cm

Cupidon

2010  Oil on canvas  63 x 33 cm

La source

2009  Oil on canvas  163 x 80 cm

Bather of Valpinçon

2009  Oil on canvas  146 x 97.5 cm

Bathing girl

2009  Oil on canvas  51 x 42 cm

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