McClain Gallery is pleased to present Particles of Light, an exhibition of recent works by Katsumi Hayakawa. For the artist’s sixth exhibition at the gallery, Hayakawa presents paper works alongside large-scale multi-panel paintings that employ metallic paint or materials as a means to capture light within two-dimensions. The title of the show, Particles of Light, refers simultaneously to light’s potentiality as subject matter as well as its most elemental properties. The artist will be in Houston for a reception on Thursday, September 12, 2019 from 6-8 pm.

In rendering optical phenomena, Hayakawa considers this pursuit an exploration of the physics of light itself.  His influences include J.M.W. Turner and Paul Cézanne who set out to be painters of light using landscape as their vehicle. The early 20th century brought even more explorations of non-traditional subject matter to the table: Impressionism and atmospheric qualities of light, Futurism and motion, Fauvism and color. Just as the Futurists explored movement at the turn of the century, the kinetic effect found in Hayakawa’s works reflect movements of the body through space. Light, here, is used to mirror the subjectivity of the viewer back to themselves and to deepen Hayakawa’s own exploration of his long-lasting concerns: density of life in the modern urban age, our range of abilities to perceive busy visual fields, and abstraction at large.  

While examining the impression of architectural density, his intricate paper constructions maintain the delicate nature of the material at hand. Fastidiously hand-crafted piece by piece, Hayakawa’s paper constructions play with the compositional idea of void vs. solid to amplify spatial relationships between alternative realities and urban spaces. Here, his inclusion of reflective metallic materials evokes images of microchips and circuit boards, probing the relationship between the real and the virtual, what is natural and what is fabricated.  

The atmospheric scale and lacquer-like surface of the multi-panel works evoke historic Japanese screen paintings, but rather than rendering a naturalist landscape, Hayakawa nears Abstract Illusionism to render an otherworldly space filled with the energy of pure light.  For Hayakawa the qualities of metallic paint allow light to “be integrated into the surface of [his] work through the interplay of reflection and refraction.” The paintings offer views of scenes usually unseen by the human eye, be they micro-particles, macro-astral bodies, or the depiction of spaces beyond our physical existence.

Katsumi Hayakawa (b. 1970, Tochigi, Japan; lives and works in Tokyo) received his BFA from Nihon University College of Arts, Tokyo and his MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1998. Hayakawa's works were the focus of a solo exhibition at Lesley University at Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2018 and have been exhibited internationally at Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan; Tokyo Wonder Site Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan; Yusto/Giner, Marbella, Spain; and Gallery MoMo, Tokyo, Japan, Rujswijk Museum, The Netherlands and throughout the U.S. His work is included in the collections of Louis Vuitton, Hong Kong and London; CAC Malaga, Spain; the American Embassy, Dubai; Target; The Royal Bank of Scotland; Entergy-Koch and Vincent & Elkins Law Firm, Houston.