When: Feb. 1-March 23 2008
Japan's commercial success sometimes makes us forget its long esthetic traditions whose leisurely minimalism is alien to time-watching types like us. The drawings of Keiko Ishihara at the Front Gallery may appear at first unfinished and tentative, but the patient viewer may enjoy contemplating their suspension of time and their ethos of observant presentness expressed with such paradoxical Zen koan means. The Kewpie dolls, rabbits, rabbit-headed drink-stirrers, shells, bendy-necked giraffes, and disarticulated doll torsos and limbs would appear to be the stuff of contemporary anime, but their encounters defy narrative. The artist executes them with such delicacy, with erasures, smudges, and overpainting modulating the already pale linework, that some are practically invisible -- but provocatively so. Also showing are tiny painted Polaroids of tabletop landscapes, partly obscured by white paint. Remember Arthur Miller's demand that "Attention must be paid"? Ishihara knows we're busy and whispers instead. Through March 23 at Front Gallery (35 Grand Ave., Oakland). FrontGalleryOakland.com or 510-735-7295.