By Phoebe Celeste Thomas
Salon Refu/The Susan Christian Project Space hosted the opening of local artist Jean Nagai’s new exhibit “Correctional/Fluid” on Dec. 5, in what was billed as a “Multimedia Happening.” The exhibition features new works in White-Out on colored paper and canvas, and will be at the gallery until Jan. 4. There will be a closing reception on January 4th with an artist talk and musical performances. Nagai will also be doing batik in the gallery throughout the show, and people are welcome to stop by during open hours.
The show’s opening night on Friday Dec. 5 featured performances by local electronic music solo projects Greggg and Ashia Climovich and an eccentric show by local performance artist Reid Urban. The show was attended by a local art fans, the gallery owner, the artist, and some press. Outside the gallery, guests hung around the mural which Nagai painted over this past summer on the gallery’s exterior.
All the work is new, the majority of it was made since last August. One feature of his newer work is that it’s on canvas instead of colored paper. Nagai says he likes the canvas for its added dimensionality. The three dimensionality does allow the pieces to incorporate themselves into the space, presenting themselves as concrete objects.
Nagai’s new work features the presence of a striking blue color. The artist says he was inspired by the color developed by mid 20th century French artist Yves Kline, International Kline Blue (IKB). A sort of brilliant ultramarine, the color is enticing and looks good amongst the rest of the mostly neutral colored space and other pieces. Nagai says he likes it because “it’s like neon but it’s dark.”
Along with the brilliant blue pieces are a number of works which feature themes ranging from mysticism to what one might perceive as reflection on social issues, all developed within the frame of abstraction and in the form of hundreds of meticulous dots, creating a coherent feel but with an obvious display of artistic exploration.
Salon Refu is named after the famed Salon des Refuses (Rejects’ Salon) of 19th century Paris, where now well respected artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cezanne first had their work displayed to the public. Although the art world has considerably less set rules today than it did in 19th century Europe, there still exist certain feelings revolving around what “art” is, what is dignified to be displayed in a gallery. Salon Refu, an Americanized spelling of something French-sounding, is a title simultaneously irreverent and reverent to the great artists whose work was shown at the Salon des Refuses. In short, its title makes for the perfect forum for up and coming, progressive-minded individuals to present their creative work.
Salon Refu is located at 114 N Capitol Way in downtown Olympia.