Western Project‘s current exhibit, Sush Machida Gaikotsu: New Wave of Turner, New School Pollock is as rife with art historical reference as it is pertinent to contemporary art. Public Image, one of Machida’s smaller, four-part compositions, entices us to enter the gallery, where we’re surrounded by roiling seas and flocculent clouds. The mural-scale paintings are multi-paneled and linked by vibrant lines that follow a spiral or curvy course until they are interrupted by cresting waves. Machida uses phalangeal forms to represent sea foam, which calls to mind 19th century Japanese woodcuts. Often, Katsushika Hokusai’s Great Wave Off Kanagawa is mentioned by reviewers when citing Machida’s inspiration. Hokusai’s famous woodcut also influenced Takashi Murikami. Contemporaries Murikami and Machida share a common process as well, which involves masking hard edges and using air-propelled paint to flaunt a “superflat” surface. Subtle chromatic shifts, varying tones, and hard edges make Machida’s lines appear to glow like neon lights. His artifice becomes obvious only when looking closely at the paint-ridged edges of the glowing lines or the tiny dots of misted paint.
Machida received his M.F.A. from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in 2002. New Wave of Turner, New School Pollock is his third solo exhibition at Western Project. His work is represented in prominent collections such as Las Vegas Art Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Portland Art Museum, and the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, Los Angeles, CA. His show at Western Project runs through February 7, 2009.