On Thursday night, Akio Takamori will unveil his latest work at James Harris Gallery. This is the last show at the current location for the gallery, and Harris doesn't yet know where the next site will be. May he land well and quickly: The gallery, representing artists from Claire Cowie to Amir Zaki, is integral.
Several years ago when I was interviewing Takamori at his home, the interview was going along a little dully until Takamori offhandedly referred to one of his longtime interests: shunga, the Japanese erotic art. Plenty of Seattle art people love shunga (and Greg Kucera deals in it, if you want some). Until that point—and don't ask me how—I was overlooking the prolific perversity in Takamori's work. Some mechanism in my mind was settling every innuendo in his work on the innocent side. I'm embarrassed that it took such an obvious reminder to pull me into seeing what was right in front of me.
The above piece easily raises to mind the provocative photograph by Nan Goldin (and owned by Elton John) that made such a controversy both in Seattle and England a few years back—and which Takamori himself hung at the Henry Art Gallery when he was guest-curating—and Marlene Dumas's watercolor painting of a pissing girl seen recently in Elles at SAM.
This orange-haired girl has the face of a Sphinx; she is all inner life. Her fists are fused to form a perfect ball and she's assumed the pose of a baseball catcher, her legs not unlike bats standing upright. Although she's called Squatting Girl, she doesn't look a day under ancient to me. For the new show, titled Ground, Takamori made three of these squatting females. They all have blank patches where "privates" would be revealed; they give nothing away. They get low.