Ryuhei Rex Yuasa

What is the value of a painting?
It is a quality that a painting has, which cannot be reduced to anything else. The unique dimension of depth expressed by Ryuhei Yuasa's paintings invites us to an earnest contemplation of the quality and value of paintings.

I would like to emphasize that the quality of depth that I am speaking of is a quality that can only be perceived visually. That is, it is certainly not a matter of a trompe l'oeil painting giving the appearence of a tactile, personal and physical presence, but rather a quality of depth which is enjoyed purely through sight. In other words, this quality of depth is pure precisely because it has no value at all apart from the fact that it is enjoyed through sight. So, how does this quality of depth produce the painting's value as a work of art? The various aesthetic theories of the past are of no help here. No god is present, and the idea of beauty does not present itself. When faced with a fine painting, our eyes are completely freed from their organic function of maintaining our safe existence, and also from interpretations in terms which are interchangable with other artistic genres or social requirements, and are able to eatablish themselves as aesthetic organs. Moreover, the depth that occurs in a fine painting, which does not exist in reality also evokes in our eyes a certian feeling of reverence, or in other words, a value which could be called pure visual sublimity, which is neither dynamic nor mathematical. This depth is unmeasurable, or trancendent and profound. Perhaps it only becomes reality when we encounter a work which brings into play the most luxurious function of the eyes as an organ. In this case, the visual sense is seperated from its original function, and it is not the viewers effort which turns it into an aesthetic organ. This can only occur when one encounters such a work of art. Yuasa's paintings truly stimulate the visual sense as an aestheic organ. In this case, 'sensibility' truly becomes 'aesthetics'.

So, how to analyze the secret of how Yuasa's paintings stimulate the visual sense as an aesthetic organ?

The shapes in Yuasa's paintings are distinct from both actual things and stereotyped geometerical shapes, and they reject all references. However, since the need for analysis forces me to use words, I would say that what appears in Yuasa's pictures is based on contourless dots. These dots form clusters which in turn form unique shapes. The clusters, made up of various sizes, produce subtle equilibruim when arranged within an extremely thin, rectangular picture above the surface of the wall. Looking more closely at the picture, it can be seen that the hollow spaces between the , contourless little color groups actually form complex layers. The spaces seen before are formed by the color groups as they fuse and intersect while maintaining an exquisite balance.

These shapes also involve color, as mentioned above, and a mellow depth is expressed on a bright, lustrous surface on which physical thickness has been minimized. In my opinion, color is a relative thing in all aspects of art, especially in paintings which strictly reject reproduction. Colors contribute the quality of a painting to a surface through the differences or contrasts between diffrent colors. On the other hand, if it is difficult to create a shape that does not actually exist. It is more difficult to use colors in such a way that they do not suggest an actual thing. Colors in Yuasa's works do not belong to and are not subordinate to any already existing shape. Not only that, the shapes are not inspired by tasseled plants or the organs of animals, as one often sees in paintings nowadays, and they avoid suggesting any such shapes. The shapes and colors in Yuasa's paintings do not pull the phenomenon of visual sensation back to the dimension of intellectual understanding. Instead, they reject the territory of understanding, and persist in keeping our vision at the level of sensation, in order to maintain the visual sense as an aesthetic organ in a permanent state of tension. This is because if a painting is enjoyed only on the level of intellectual understanding, it's value as a painting is reduced, and in a sense it 'dies.' Yuasa's works achive a principle of pure painting in which colors are not subordinate to anything, but are autonomous shapes. In other words, it could be said that Yuasa's shapes transcend teleological thought, in the sense of being shapes that are derived from colors. Yuasa achives a definite quality in his paintings by varying the basic colors and combinations of colors, and combining them with several shapes as described before. This is the depth expressed in Yuasa's paintings, a depth which can express people divorced from race or nationality or history or social structure in other words, all people and which achives a universal value which applies to all people in general.

Kazuhiro Yamamoto
Senior Curator
Tochigi Perfectral Museum of Fine Arts

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