We are pleased to present new paintings on metal by New York-based artist Miya Ando whose work was recently the subject of solo exhibitions at The American University Museum in Washington DC and The Noguchi Museum in New York. The luminous works on aluminum center on fugitive imagery of clouds in twilight hours of dusk.
Ando has achieved critical acclaim for her visceral paintings and large-scale installations that articulate transient, intangible aspects of the natural world. Her previous public projects include Sora Versailles, 2018, for which she shrouded an iconic Miami building in mesh printed with sunset-hued clouds and Ginga (The Silver River in the Sky), 2019, a sheer star-speckled banner suspended on metal stilts stretching 200 feet in length in Socrates Sculpture Park, New York.
Her latest body of work comes on the heels of her recent series of 1,200 indigo-infused moon drawings that she began during lockdown, creating a pandemic almanac of sorts. Her new series—Tasogare (Twilight) and Yuugure (Evening)—form a compendium of images recording specific moments of time just before light is extinguished.
Working from photographs of particular cloud formations chronicling precise moments in time, Ando uses watercolor-like techniques to layer translucent washes of ink and pigment mixed with urethane on metal canvases. Leaving some areas bare, she allows the reflective metal to shine amid passages of muted color creating a sense of depth and movement. In many works she also embeds micronized pure silver, a fine dust-like material, which adds further sheen.
The Tasogare (Twilight) series is rooted in the Japanese concept mono-no-aware which is commonly translated as “the pathos of things,” a bittersweet sentiment often linked to nature and the passing of time. “It’s a wistful recognition of a fleeting moment but I don’t see it in a nihilistic sense where everything is impermanent including myself. It’s more an appreciation and awareness of the present moment,” says Ando. “My thought process behind chronicling changes in the environment stems from a yearning to pay homage to and to be connected to the natural world.”
Meanwhile, the Yuugure (Evening) series was inspired by a quote from the tenth-century Japanese court lady Sei Shonagon who equates, in The Pillow Book, each season with a moment in the day connecting evening with autumn, one of the most ephemeral seasons of the year. Ando was drawn to the evocative connection between the two systems of time.
Since childhood, Ando has been fascinated by the natural world. Though she was raised in a Buddhist temple in Okayama, Japan, she was also exposed to Shintoism (the native religion of Japan) which deifies nature. Ando has vivid memories of her grandmother observing the 72 micro seasons of the Japanese lunar calendar noticing what flowers were in bloom and wearing kimonos corresponding to the surrounding landscape. While this practice is now obsolete, the idea of being deeply attuned to nature left a lasting impression.
Ando selected metal as a support for her paintings for its ability to transform depending on the time of day or the angle from which it is viewed. “As a material it’s visceral and experiential—it captures and communicates transitoriness,” says the artist, whose interest in metal stems from an early encounter in Okayama. She remembers her grandfather, who was the head priest of the temple, chanting sutras in the hondo (main hall) at a black-lacquer altar adorned with gold leaf, materials that were luminescent under candlelight. Ever since, she’s been fascinated by metal’s ability to capture and reflect light.
Ando later moved to Northern California where her family settled in a remote redwood forest. As a young girl, she recalls searching for similarities between Japan and the U.S., which appeared worlds apart. She found common threads in nature, which gave her solace then as it continues to do today. Ando’s art is in essence a celebration of universality and connection: “I like the idea that anyone can look up in the sky and the clouds belong to us all.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in Los Angeles in 1973, Miya Ando is a multidisciplinary American artist who is widely recognized for her atmospheric paintings and large-scale installations exploring fleeting natural phenomena.
Ando’s work has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions at Asia Society Texas Center, Houston; Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art, Savannah; and The Noguchi Museum, New York. She has produced numerous public commissions worldwide including a sculpture built from World Trade Center steel installed in London’s Olympic Park on the ten-year anniversary of 9/11.
Ando has been the recipient of several grants and awards including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and was commissioned to create artwork for Philip Johnson’s Glass House, New Canaan, Connecticut. Her work is included in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Detroit Institute of Arts; the Corning Museum of Glass, New York; the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art as well as numerous notable private collections.
The artist holds a bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She has also undertaken East Asian studies at Yale and Stanford. A descendant of Bizen swordsmiths, Ando apprenticed with a master metalsmith in Japan.