Art Lies, Volume 63, Fall 2009 Page: 92
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L. Yo Fukui, I'm Gonna Live Till I Die, 2008; mixed media; 8 x 3 x 3 feet
R. I Love You No Matter If The Earth is Destroyed, 2007; mixed media; 5 x 11 x 14
feet; courtesy the artist
David Salow Gallery
Sometimes objects are so strange-so obsessively constructed and
unabashedly beautiful-that, like a good intoxicant, they can leave you
mumbling and incoherent, unable to vocalize exactly what it is that they
do to you. Yo Fukui's debut solo show, Future Imperfect at David Salow
Gallery, comes satisfyingly close to accomplishing this sense of bewilder-
ment. While it does fail to impress at times, the show is quite literally a
spectacular start to this artist's career.
Fukui's stock and trade is his signature felt applique technique, where
countless rectangular color swatches accumulate to form fantastic pat-
terns and sensuous surfaces. Five large sculptural works showcase a crafty
obsessiveness, usually with an amorphous felt-covered form hovering
above or around brightly painted papier-mache bases reminiscent of Franz
West's sculptures. These almost compulsive constructions are all startlingly
flamboyant, but none is more stunning than I Love You No Matter If The
Earth Is Destroyed. Here Fukui deploys his additive method atop a tie-dyed
sheet, creating a zigzag pattern resembling a knitting project executed
under the influence of heavy psychedelics. The entire form resembles a
colossal hummingbird, complete with an erect metal proboscis. At night
the sculpture glows, speckled with luminescent, nipplelike orbs filled with
sparkling Christmas lights. The buckling and bulging mass hovers on an
unassuming steel armature; its long metal pole prods an unfinished skel-
eton of corrugated plastic and metal siding.
Frankly, work like this is difficult to describe to the letter because it's so
insistently phantasmagoric, inspiring hyphen-heavy allegorical interpreta-
tions that always seem to miss the mark. However, this is where Fukui's
work succeeds, generating a kind of ocular overload that renders literal
The most incongruous and least successful piece in the show is a
painting of sorts entitled Rain, which consists of countless drippy gray and
black, diagonal sumi ink brushstrokes on dozens of rolls of toilet paper
stacked on towel racks against the gallery wall. A few calculated drips on
the wall itself convey that the piece was made in situ. The use of stacked
toilet paper as canvas is a somewhat novel move, but the piece is essen-
tially a quick play on materials, marrying bodily functions with abstract
painting. We've seen plenty of this kind of joke before, and because of this,
the piece is forgettable.
Perhaps Fukui's greatest challenge is that there is so much other work
out there employing techniques and materials similar to his, albeit to vary-
ing degrees of success, that it is hard to imagine the pieces in this show
going toe-to-toe with the likes of Yayoi Kusama or even Mindy Shapero.
Fukui simply hasn't figured out how to push his material concerns to their
most extreme limits. However, his work certainly holds its own among
so many of the junk-as-new, millennial-totemic works that seem to have
colonized certain sectors of the art world for the last decade. Fukui will
have no trouble surviving this trendy epoch if he can push himself to make
work that embraces risk while still residing at the fringes of pleasure.
Tucker Neel is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.
92 ART LIES NO. 63
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Gupta, Anjali. Art Lies, Volume 63, Fall 2009, periodical, 2009; Houston, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth228028/m1/94/: accessed October 19, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; .