The richness of the natural world is the source of inspiration of the works Setsuko brings to the Gagosian gallery, with new sculptures in ceramic, bronze and wood, alongside paintings and works on paper, marking the artist’s return to Rome after a long absence – her last solo exhibition was in the late 1970s, at Il Gabbiano gallery.
Setsuko today works and lives in Paris and at the Grand Chalet de Rossinière, Switzerland, but for 15 years, until 1977, she had lived right in Rome with her husband Balthus, during his tenure as director of the Villa Medici’s Académie de France à Rome. It was there, too, that she first met Benoît Astier de Villatte, who also resided at the Villa Medici as a child. Now Setsuko works in Astier de Villatte’s workshop in Paris, where she produces her own artwork and collaborates with the renowned studio on ceramic collections as well.
Made of terra-cotta and coated with a white glaze, oaks, magnolias, roses, vines, lemon, quince, pomegranate and fig trees convey through their imposing forms and delicate surfaces strength developed over years of survival as well as emergent new growth. While reminiscent of Japanese ceramics dating back to Jōmon earthenware (c. 10,500-300 BCE), the sculptures also draw inspiration from European aesthetic traditions, a continuation of Setsuko’s drive to unite imagery from East and West. Also displayed alongside the white ceramics are bronze candelabras adorned with grapevine, fig, and pomegranate motifs, and a wooden olive tree with painted leaves and flowers.
A grouping of Setsuko’s paintings and works on paper charts her development as an artist over six decades, from the works of the 1960s to the latest productions made during the pandemic lockdown. The elegant still-life arrangements and intimate domestic interiors are delicately rendered and sometimes enlivened by the presence of plants and cats: a synthesis of traditional Japanese and modernist European aesthetics, the paintings, like the sculptural works, reveal her careful contemplative observation of everyday objects and the life around them.
Works © Setsuko Photo: Matteo D'Eletto M3 Studio Courtesy Gagosian gagosian.com
Dall' 8 settembre al 29 ottobre 2022
dal martedì al sabato dalle 10.30 alle 19.00
Inaugurazione: giovedì 8 settembre 2022 ore 16.00 – 20.00