Oct 21 - Nov 12, 2023
1545 W Sunset, Los Angeles
2872 Colorado Ave, Los Angeles
A solo exhibition
ATLA is delighted to announce, BLACK WAX, a solo exhibition of new works by Daichiro Shinjo, an artist with a unique expressive power and distinctive abstract painting style. Presented in two locations in Los Angeles—Echo Park and Santa Monica—each will feature distinguishable voices within Shinjo’s practice: for Echo Park, intimate painted prints, and paintings on rice paper, for Santa Monica, a select grouping of large-scale paintings on linen.
Exploring related innovations within traditional Japanese calligraphy known as shodō, Shinjo attempts to reduce ancient Japanese characters to their etymological root, an image. Having begun his studies of shodō at the age of four under the influence of his grandfather, a Zen monk and revered folklorist in Japan, he imprinted the Zen philosophy and the Okinawan spiritual culture onto Shinjo. Shinjo’s experimental approach restructures the formal nature of this medium with large swaths of uninterrupted paint in a nuanced understanding of spatiality.
The presented works reflect the reductive color vocabulary of Shinjo’s monochromatic palette. Ink is hand formulated from animal glue and soot to give it sculptural quality, and the indigo present in some of his works is locally sourced from Okinawa’s surrounding indigo farms and pays further homage to Shinjo’s roots.
With magnified shapes and textured brushstrokes, each movement leaves a record of the artist’s presence. Developed through his characteristic “call and response” approach, Shinjo begins with a selected theme, and executes this through a long-form, meditative process designed to loosen his body from restraint. Beginning his process through the continuous act of drawing a circle, he states: “Every time I make a piece, I start with circles to tune my body. Nature can make circles. When you toss a rock into a pond, even if the rock is rectangular or has many angles, the resulting ripples are circular. Circles help me to maintain nothingness. I aim to be like those ripples in water.” The resulting freedom reveals an unrivaled breadth and depth that highlights the essence of human narrative and emotion through pictorial depiction.
A great strength of Shinjo’s artistic voice is his connection to material, his interweaving of heavy strokes, and his distribution of rhythmically emotive lines. By adding new layers of freedom to this medium so deeply tied to tradition, Shinjo is pushing the bounds of its expressive potential into a space exclusively his own.
Daichiro Shinjo, born on Miyako Island at the Southernmost point of Japan, is an artist modernizing traditional Japanese calligraphy known as shodō. Best known for his distinctive monochromatic paintings, Shinjo creates abstract expressionist compositions that derive from the oldest written forms of kanji characters. Using Okinawa’s locally farmed indigo dye, and sumi ink which he hand formulates from animal glue and soot, Shinjo’s vigorous brushstrokes are determined by the fleeting and yet complex moments that surround him.
Shinjo began his studies of shodō at the age of four under the influence of his grandfather, a Zen monk and revered folklorist in Japan who imprinted the Zen philosophy and the Okinawan spiritual culture onto Shinjo. Anchored in the traditions that define these schools of thought, Shinjo’s experimental approach restructures the formal nature of this medium through large swaths of paint in a nuanced understanding of spatiality.
Since graduating from the Department of Space Design at Shizuoka University of Art and Culture, Shinjo has exhibited at Untitled Art in San Francisco and Curators Cube in Tokyo, as well as collaborated with brands such as Comme des Garçons and Hermès, where he was featured in the video series Human Odyssey. Shinjo currently resides on Miyako Island, where he also has his studio and in May 2022, opened an artist’s residency and gallery called PALI.