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Art review: Makiko Kudo at Marc Foxx

January 13, 2011 |  5:20 pm

Kudo Insomnia

Makiko Kudo’s hauntingly beautiful paintings chart a quietly charged course between loveliness and loneliness. At Marc Foxx, the Tokyo-based 32-year-old’s oils on canvas evoke bittersweet memories of bygone days, giving visitors a chance to revisit childhood without turning it into a sappy cliché.

Part of the power of Kudo’s images derives from their formal toughness, compositional savvy and spot-on paint handling. Two 12-feet-long paintings, “Missing” and “Manager of the End of the World,” make you think of Monet’s gorgeous water lilies and Rousseau’s dreamy realism without forcing the comparisons or getting bogged down in portent. Similarly, Matisse’s Fauvist phase burbles into consciousness when you stand before “Insomnia,” the show’s serene knockout.

Kudo’s best works are her biggest. The three small ones in a side gallery come off as cramped, almost claustrophobic. In contrast, “Snow Dome,” “Base Ogawa Garbage Incinerator” and “Daytime Ghost” give Kudo enough room to loosen up without losing control, to balance unself-conscious abandon and crystalline precision, everyday ordinariness and quirky absurdity.

Her poignant works bring intimacy and introspection to the whiplash graphics of the anime generation. The paradox of being unable to escape a place that never really felt like home is Kudo’s great subject. It may not be timeless but it’s also not uncommon, and she shows herself to be a reliable guide to its intricate turns and twists.

-- David Pagel

Marc Foxx, 6150 Wilshire Blvd., (323) 857-5571, through Feb. 5. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Image: Makiko Kudo, "Insomnia." Credit: Courtesy of Marc Foxx