Araki Minol (1928-2010)
Ink and colors on paper
15 3/4 x 18 1/2 in.
21 x 24 in. (inclusive of frame)
For more information on this fascinating artist, please view our ZOOM Gallery Talk titled, ARAKI MINOL: An Artist Between Worlds
A standout within Araki's vast and diverse oeuvre, the Fire Island series may reveal the most personal glimpse of the artist. His subject matter in his middle age had so far ranged from still life and fruit and birds to portraits and nudes and even to monumental landscapes and nature scenes. Much has been made of his inspiration from the literati ink painting tradition and of the mentorship of modern master Zhang Daqian. The Fire Island pictures, however, are intimate in both subject and scale and are a departure from such classical precedents. At once thoughtful and heartfelt, these have the plein air feel of an artist alone on a shore with sketchpad and a few colors in hand. The dramatic diagonals of sun-streaked sky and cloud bands merging with rolling ocean waves recall some of the less tempestuous seascapes by Turner. Characteristic of Araki, botanic elements are carefully rendered in the foreground – long grasses in this instance, instead of trees.
The small group of Fire Island works are "the painter at his most intimate and unguarded, thinking visually, reflecting, almost unconsciously recording through his brush the visual experiences of a life of close observation and deep reflection," writes Richard Barnhart in the 1999 Phoenix Art Museum retrospective exhibition catalogue. "Araki here seems to me to come closest to a purely personal and relatively unmediated engagement with the making of images."
An artist who lived between many worlds, Araki Minol (1928-2010) was a prodigious talent who successfully bridged the painting traditions of China and Japan, nature scenes and portraiture, classicism and modernity, and later, the artistic styles that had taken hold in the East and West. His unique hybridity, both biographically and creatively, laid the foundation for his vigorous paintings that not only synthesized these various influences but further revealed a highly original artistic viewpoint. Delicate botanical studies, intimate in scale, were as much a part of his repertoire as soaring mountain vistas, which could grow to multi-panel, room-sized installations. Works of this scale are in the permanent collections of Western institutions including the Minneapolis Institute of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and Saint Louis Art Museum. Significant works by Araki can also be found in major museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.