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  • Introduction


    Susumu Kamijo’s chimerical paintings of poodles are singular in their ability to evoke both light-hearted whimsy and formal gravitas. Marching to the Sun is exemplary of Kamijo’s uniquely recognisable aesthetic: featuring two of the artist’s trademark poodles, the painting confers a majestic, almost imperial stateliness, with the poodles’ abstracted forms approaching that of imposing Japanese Samurai soldiers marching side-by-side under the blood-red glow of a setting sun.


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    The present work installed at New York, Jack Hanley Susumu Kamijo: Lick Me Till Dawn, 9 September – 11 October 2020



    Kamijo’s visual language abstracts reality through a blend of aesthetic styles: his sublimated minimalist shapes and contrasting constellation of colours recall the organic elegance of Henri Matisse’s cut-outs, his Pointillist daubs of poodle fur invoke the dexterous, tactile works of artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Jennifer Guidi, while his use of block colour and isolated forms lend his compositions the hard-edged, graphic style of ancient Japanese woodblock printing. Extraordinarily, Kamijo’s deceptively simple deconstruction of nonchalant reality articulates powerful emotional impact; in particular, his works communicate slightly unsettling undertones that are reminiscent of the darker angsts of German Expressionism. Overall, his endearing paintings emanate the emotive and alluring glow of works by Colour Field artists, commanding the attention of both vision and psyche.



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    Photograph of a Japanese samurai in armour, 1860s




    Born in 1975 in Nagano, Japan, Kamijo moved to the United States at the age of 16 and completed his Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting and Drawing at the University of Oregon in 2000, and his Master of Fine Art in Painting and Drawing at the University of Washington in 2002. Currently living and working in Brooklyn, New York, the artist works across paper and canvas employing a mixture of materials including oil pastel, pencil and pen, as well as acrylic, oil, and Flashe vinyl paint, exploring the abstraction of everyday motifs such as animals and human faces through distortion of shape and colour.


    Kamijo’s Distinctive Poodles


    Kamijo arrived at his signature motif of the poodle in 2014. The artist’s motivation for his choice of the poodle was, in particular, their peculiar shapes, especially those with clipped and coiffed fur. Having always been fascinated by the fundamental elements of shape, colour, and pure aesthetic form, Kamijo used photographs from dog shows or magazines as an inspiration for his drawings of poodles, which he reduced to their most essential elements: eyes, ears, noses, and mouths which are deconstructed into undulating shapes, minimalist contours, and sharp lines. Within each expanse of colour, Kamijo creates varied texture through repetitive patterns, cross-hatching, and layering of pigment. While his deconstructions empty his subjects of meaning and reference, the resulting compositions are paradoxically imbued with emotion, character, and personality: through abstraction, Kamijo’s poodles come alive, thriving with anthropomorphic charisma.



    Left: Jennifer Guidi, New Horizon (Painted White Sand SF #3C, Light Yellow and Pink Sky), 2018

    © Jennifer Guidi

    Right: Jennifer Guidi, Orion (Blue Painted Sand SF #1F Mandala), 2016

    Sold by Phillips New York on 24 June 2021 for US$441,000



    Executed in 2020, the present Marching to the Sun hails from the first group of works in which Kamijo expanded his practice from paper to canvas. The large-scale work is set on an abstracted background of white and red, with the circle on the top-centre suggesting the title’s setting sun. Kamijo’s minimalist yet powerful scenes ground his frisky subjects within the monumental traditions of landscapes and Abstract Expressionist Colour Field painting; as an undeniably accomplished colourist, the artist’s well-honed manoeuvring of tone and layering evokes highly assertive and stirring sense of place, atmosphere, and temperament.





    Mark Rothko, Red, Black, White on Yellow, 1955
    © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


    Marching to the Sun’s almost symmetrical composition lends the painting a striking grandiosity as well as introspective quality, while the carefully crafted forms of the poodles’ body readily invites associations to Japanese Samurai armour. With abstracted facial features peering out of a helmet-like visage, the pair of poodle warriors march defiantly onwards, less to the sun than towards the viewer. The striking image invites warmth, playful affection, and uplifting encouragement: let us march on, together with man’s best friend.



    Collector’s Digest


    Kamijo has held solo exhibitions at Stems Gallery, Brussels; GYNP, Berlin; Harper’s Books, New York; Marvin Garden, Queens; and Masahiro Maki Gallery, Tokyo. During his time at the University of Washington, Kamijo met fellow painter Jonas Wood, and the pair collaborated on Kamijo’s first catalogue Poodles (2017).


    • Provenance

      Jack Hanley Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Jack Hanley Gallery, New York, Susumu Kamijo: Lick Me Till Dawn, 9 September - 11 October 2020



Marching To The Sun

signed and dated 'Susumu Kamijo 2020' on the overlap
Flashe vinyl paint on canvas
152.4 x 122 cm. (60 x 48 in.)
Painted in 2020.

Full Cataloguing

HK$450,000 - 650,000 

Sold for HK$2,142,000

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art
+852 2318 2026

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 30 November 2021