Junko Go’s exhibition at Gallery 101 is “all about… blooming”. This large series of paintings are all botanically named but even without the titles the charcoal drawings of the roses, spider lily, angel trumpet and other flowers are recognizable. However, these are not botanical, still life or paintings of gardens, there is so much more content. There is even more to the titles of these paintings than just a name, they include short meditations. For example: “Red Hot Poker – Push and poke our inner strength. Sometimes, we need courage to take ricks of confronting pain and loss in order to gain a deep and profound experience.”

The pale grounds of the paintings lift the pinks and orange and blacks. It provides a ground, like a page in sketchbook, for the charcoal and pastel marks. And creates a play of subtle shades.

There is an uncommon mix of qualities in Junko Go’s paintings: beautiful and serene but not bland. They are both relaxed and vibrant with details. Calm and fun at the same time. How is all of this possible?

One artist’s ideas can cross-pollinate another artist’s and produce strong progeny. The moment that I saw these paintings I knew that the form of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings had influenced Junko Go. It is a form that doesn’t restrict the contemporary artists but brings together many ways of creating visual images. To both draw and paint. To create images that are abstract, symbolic and representational. Now there are a lot of differences between of Jean-Michel Basquiat, a black American man from NYC and Junko Go, a Japanese woman living in rural Tasmania. And the most obvious difference to point out in their paintings is that Basquiat frequently used a black ground whereas Junko Go uses a white ground. And then there would be different moods, styles and ideas – it really is just the form, the informal way of organizing marks on canvas that they share.

Junko Go was still working on the wall painting of roses in the gallery when I visited on Wednesday afternoon. Wall paintings are becoming more common in all kinds of painter’s exhibitions. Perhaps these ephemeral artworks are another influence that street art has had on the art galleries.

Marcus Bunyan has written a review of this exhibition on Art Blart.


About Mark Holsworth

Writer and artist Mark Holsworth is the author of two books, The Picasso Ransom and Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

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