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A selection of works from the late artist Kikuo Saito to open at Octavia Art Gallery
Kikuo Saito, Zoo, 2012, Oil on canvas, 52 3/4 x 76 3/4 inches.

NEW ORLEANS, LA.- Octavia Art Gallery will present a selection of works from the late artist Kikuo Saito. The exhibition focuses on Saito’s work from 2010 – 2015, the artist’s final years. This will be the second solo exhibition of Saito’s work at the gallery.

Kikuo Saito was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1939 and moved to New York City in 1966. As a young man, he was a studio assistant to Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland and Larry Poons. Along with his painting practice, Saito is recognized for his poetic theater works that incorporated costumes, light, music and dance. His knowledge of choreography and stage direction directly influenced his approach to painting. Typically, he painted on the floor, circling and moving over the canvas to create each composition. The resultant works are rhythmic, gestural and expressionistic. As art critic Karen Wilkin explains, "We discover that characters from his stage pieces have been reincarnated as abstract configurations within his paintings, reborn as the records of animated gestures that retain the individuality of their sources. The backdrop of a performance has influenced the layout and the component elements of paintings. The slow rhythms of a stage piece have somehow been transubstantiated into a slow accretion of marks across a surface.”

The exhibition will include the artist’s most recent paintings which exemplify Saito’s use of color and mark-making. These boldly gestural abstract paintings are exhilarating and full of life, teeming with saturated colors. In these paintings “We are confronted by zones of evocative color, freely deployed against white or pale grounds,” Wilkin says, though, “there are no large expanses of un-modulated color, no defined planes, but instead, loosely "woven" fabrics of floating brushstrokes of various kinds, tenuously held together as if they exerted a weak magnetic force on one another. Each canvas has its own calligraphic character and rhythms. Saito's vocabulary of marks includes urgent scribbles, delicate loops, staccato horizontal strokes, fierce slashes, and meandering trails, at times combined in unexpected ways.”

The lyrical and dynamic works included in this exhibition represent the final stage of Saito’s impressive career, which spanned decades of creativity. Octavia Art Gallery is proud to be working with the Estate of Kikuo Saito to promote his legacy of color field and abstract expressionist painting.

Saito’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. His work is included in public and private collections such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Aldrich Museum, Connecticut; Duke University Museum of Art, North Carolina; AT&T Collection, New York; Estee Lauder Collection, New York; J.P. Morgan Chase Collection, New York and the World Bank, Washington, D.C.

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