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Chance & Fate
Photographic Sculptures and Installations
September 12 – November 7, 2015

We are extremely pleased to announce our eighth one-person presentation of works by Kunié Sugiura, a Japanese artist who has lived and worked in New York since the late 1960s.
The exhibition features sculptural works and installation pieces created using the classic photogram technique, an archaic process in which the shadow of an object is directly recorded on light-sensitive paper without the use of a camera.
For almost fifty years, Kunié Sugiura has conducted an expansive investigation of the uses and manifestations of photography to produce a large and varied body of work that includes unique color abstractions, multimedia works on canvas, and life- sized depictions of people, animals, fish, birds, insects, and a wide range of botanical specimens.
In 1980, she began to explore the photogram technique, expanding its capabilities to create painterly works with increased tonal variations, deep illusionistic spaces, and saturated colors that often evoked traditional Japanese art forms such as ikebana and sumi-e painting, while succinctly recalling the synthesis of East and West that has always informed her aesthetic.
Sugiura first developed her highly experimental approach while studying from 1963 to 1967 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where the Modernist legacy of the New Bauhaus instilled in her a lifelong commitment to invention. In the 1990s, she began to widen the graphic possibilities of the photogram to create serial works that recorded the movements of living beings, and also made multi-unit wall pieces and free-standing sculptural objects incorporating photogram prints with found and constructed objects.
Prominently featured among the works included in this exhibition is The Kitten Papers (1992), produced when Sugiura spread light-sensitive paper over the floor of her darkroom, where two kittens cavorted over seven consecutive nights. The evidence of their presence is captured on seven separate prints bearing ghostly outlines and painterly splatters. Each print has been mounted on aluminum and rests on a long wooden shelf, accompanied by an explanatory text.
Another highlight of the exhibition, Premonitions by Roses (1997), perfectly illustrating the confluence of East and West in Sugiura 's practice, consists of 128 unique gelatin-silver photograms mounted directly on the wall in a perfect circle that measures ten feet in diameter. Each black and white print depicts cut roses laid out in successive rows using a system that she established in her series of photograms entitled Stacks, an homage to Donald Judd's stacked progressions made by bundling increasingly larger bunches of flowers and arranging them in progressive stacks on photo-sensitive paper. In Premonitions by Roses, the artist used the I-Ching to determine the configuration of the prints, also alluding in her title to the Japanese photographer Eikoe Hosoe's classic 1963 series Ba Ra Kei (Ordeal by Roses), which features dark, dramatic portrayals of the novelist Yukio Mishima.
Like other notable Japanese women artists who emerged in the post-war years, Sugiura went West to fulfill her artistic ambitions. Born in Nagoya in 1942 and raised in Tokyo by a single mother, she arrived in the United States at the age of twenty after studying physics at Ochanomizu Women’s University in Tokyo. With few personal connections and speaking little English, she enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she studied photography and film making. After graduating in 1967, she moved to New York and immediately began to show conceptual photographic works in galleries and museum exhibitions including, among others, the 1972 Whitney Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Painting, curated by Marcia Tucker.
Works by Kunie Sugiura have been exhibited at major museums throughout Japan, Europe, and the United States, and are included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photogra­phy; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and many other important institutions.
She is currently participating in For a New World To Come: Experiments in An and Photography, Japan, 1968–1979, a major survey that originated at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and travels this fall to the Grey Art Gallery and the Japan Society Gallery in New York. Sugiura's works will be on view in at the Grey Art Gallery from September 11 to December 5.
Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects is located on the sixth floor of 535 West 22nd Street, between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

401 Broadway, Suite 411  New York, N.Y. 10013  info@tonkonow.com