Fuminao Suenaga “Picture Frame”

August 29 - September 27, 2020

Fuminao Suenaga
Picture Frame
Acrylic, pigment, gold paint on cotton and panel
51.3 x 41.8 x 5.5cm

Maki Fine Arts is pleased to present Picture Frame, a solo show by Fuminao Suenaga, to celebrate the gallery’s 10th anniversary, starting Saturday, August 29, 2020. The exhibition will showcase new works from Suenaga’s “Picture Frame” series, depicting the frames that surround existing masterpiece paintings. When the series was first shown at Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art in 2014, his works portrayed picture frames from the museum’s own collection. In his much-awaited fourth solo show at Maki Fine Arts, Suenaga has focused on celebrated paintings he has seen in person or has researched online.

Creating Intimacy: Fuminao Suenaga Picture Frame
Yoko Nose (curator, Toyota Municipal Museum of Art)

Without a trace of contradiction, his works unite cuteness–the type that can be found in the embellishments on a box of sweets–and conceptualism–demonstrated through the minimalistic reliefs used in his works. The slick, two-dimensional surfaces help us glide past any thoughts of reading too much into them. What you see aligned on the walls are paintings that are part of a museum’s collection: museums such as The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Museum of Western Art (Tokyo), and Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art.
Although they are depictions of paintings, only the frames are clearly outlined. The paintings themselves are gone, replaced by a single color. Yet they are not completely erased. The “empty” sections evenly fill the entire box-like surface, morphing into something completely different. The original frames selected for inspiration have wood mosaic applications, simple straight lines, or leaf- or geometric-shaped reliefs. When a painting’s surface is void of any color or tone, the original work’s individuality is completely sanitized, including the time period in history, philosophical isms behind the work, as well as the historical events that inspired the creation of the piece. When this happens, the frame–normally relegated to a utilitarian function or, at most, a sidekick that brings out the best of the main character–now becomes equal to or perhaps even outshines the painting itself.
In the past, paintings were literally part of the building, integrated onto the wall. The use of picture frames originated from a need to take the paintings off the wall surface to transport them. The frames showcased in Picture Frame are unimposing, all small enough to be carried anywhere. They resemble furniture, creating intimacy and freedom in the space. The fabricated feel that comes from imitating the original helps curb explicit exaggeration of the painting’s worth. Yet, Picture Frame also solicits a light pondering. What is painting?

Fuminao Suenaga

Born 1974 in Yamagata, Japan, Fuminao Suenaga graduated from Tokyo Zokei University in 1999 with a major in painting. His paintings and three-dimensional works are based on visual subject matters inspired by elements relating to exhibition spaces and observations made during day-to-day activities. Recent shows include Publicness of the Art Center (Art Tower Mito, Contemporary Art Gallery, 2019-2020), Weavers of Worlds -A Century of Flux in Japanese Modern/Contemporary Art– (Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, 2019), Pleased to meet you. New Acquisitions in recent years (Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, 2019), Search Results (Maki Fine Arts, Tokyo, 2018), railroad siding 2017 (former Tokorozawa city supply center for school meals, Saitama, 2017), The Potential of Intangible Art Vol. 3 Transform / Paint (with Yui Yaegashi, gallery αM, 2016), Maki Fine Arts 5th anniversary group show discreet abstraction (curator, Maki Fine Arts, 2015), APMoA Project ARCH vol. 11 Museum Piece (Aichi Prefecture Museum of Art, 2014), and Born in 1974 (part 1 of a 40th anniversary show, Museum of Modern Art, Gunma, 2014).