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Yumiko Glover’s Paintings Examine Japanese History, Youth Culture, Technology

Artist’s Paintings Examine Japanese History, Youth Culture, and Technology


At Silo118 gallery, Yumiko Glover presents paintings that examine Japanese history, youth culture, and technology. Using bold colors and abstract forms, the works are not only strikingly vibrant but full of sociopolitical critique. Glover’s relationship to her war-ravaged hometown of Hiroshima and larger Japanese culture is central to her work. The title of the exhibition, For Your Eyes Only, draws from phrasing used by Japanese intelligence operatives, as well as the classic 1981 James Bond film. Critical of the Japanese government’s strategy of recruiting youth through romanticized notions of war, Glover’s paintings juxtapose symbols of combat with depictions of teenage schoolkids.

The most successful works combine figuration with abstraction so that historical references are in contrast to contemporary culture. In one painting, two young men wear matching white button-ups; one holds an umbrella, another binoculars. Their bodies are dotted with blue and red paint to create an almost shard-like effect, while the background is a brilliant turquoise blue that is cut by one red abstract form alluding to warfare. Glover’s play between realism and abstraction gives an atmosphere of suspense to the fixed canvases, with the monochrome backdrop serving as the ideal base to suggest concepts of pixilation and virtual reality.

In other paintings, abstraction takes center stage as lines and shapes form clouds of smoke or pieces of shrapnel. While the execution of these works feels unresolved, they still inform the show’s concept, the manual to deciphering Glover’s other paintings. For the artist, who completed her MFA at UC Santa Barbara in 2017 and is a 2017-2018 artist in residence there, the relationship to historical memory and how it continues to influence the present is key. From divisions of gender to the concept of innocence, she is interested in the way new technologies deviate from and continue to build off of the past — creating subcultures within an already well-defined one. Ultimately, For Your Eyes Only is a worthwhile show by an emerging artist at the onset of an important idea.

For Your Eyes Only is on view at Silo118 (118 Gray Ave.) through April 30.

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