The thing a body moves through
One must proceed with humility in relation to nature and natural challenges, whether they are of the weather or microbial attacks. The paintings of Ryoko Kaneta document nature’s beauty in parallel with its turbulence. Ancient peoples of some cultures had a sensitive relationship to the powers of nature; this is well evidenced by the paintings of Japanese Rinpa and Kano schools, by which Kaneta is inspired. The consequential artworks are at once worshipping, yet also aware of nature’s might and potential threat.
A distinctive convention of Japanese art is to depict the transitioning of seasons in one painting or artwork. Ryoko Kaneta adopts this technique also, and progresses it further by experimenting with changing skylight and developmental patterns of the landscape. This tradition, and the way that it shows in the artist’s paintings urge the viewer to confront the inevitability of change; tackled simultaneously is the beauty and brevity of nature.
Forces much greater than us occasionally come to terminate order and sense. To be human right now, in this current moment, is to be unbalanced and faced with something one struggles to comprehend and most certainly cannot control. The subjects in Kaneta’s paintings at once personify nature; yet float somewhat in awe of, and victim to itself.
Many of us have been confronted with an expanse of time recently. I have found comfort in observing time in the form of seasonal change, which is revealed with blatancy in my parent’s English garden. In a time of individual and global vulnerability, it has projected phenomenal possibility and progression. On a comparatively miniscule scale, the garden has offered me a grasp on the perplexing ways of nature and the challenges that we have, and will continue to face. Reflecting over the paintings of Ryoko Kaneta provokes a similar reaction. One is confronted with both nature and time, manifested as each other, yet also as two separate entities. The fluidity and movement of the artworks suggest both at once.
Having addressed nature, and finding some comfort in the thought that there is no more reliable change than the advance of the seasons, I come to think of time as a single thing. The Covid-19 pandemic, and lockdown more specifically has reconfigured the way I think of time. In this moment, when there has been nothing to do or fill our days with, one has simply ‘done’ time. Time has since taken form as a verb, rather than a noun. Time has less often been something we have moved through recently, and become instead an action or an occurrence. Ryoko Kaneta’s ‘Through the Seasons’ at Four You Gallery abruptly reminds me that time is in fact the thing that the body moves through. Time is not something to do; it is something to be experienced, particularly when surrounded by nature and its phenomenon’s, whether intimidating or utterly awe- inspiring.