signed 'Shinro Ohtake' in English; dated '92' (lower right); & signed 'Shinro Ohtake' in English; dated '92' (lower right)
two paper, tape, oil, pencil and ball pen on paper
each: 100 x 70 cm. (39 3/8 x 27 1/2 in.) (2)
(2)Executed in 1992; & 1992
Retina (Strobo II): Galerie Tokoro, Shinro Ohtake: Retina, exh. cat., Tokyo, Japan, 1993 (illustrated, plate 11, unpaged).
Retina (Strobo IV): Galerie Tokoro, Shinro Ohtake: Retina, exh. cat., Tokyo, Japan, 1993 (illustrated, plate 13, unpaged).
Tokyo, Japan, Galerie Tokoro, Shinro Ohtake: Retina, 6 December 1993 - 31 January 1994.
Tokyo, Japan, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Shinro Ohtake Zen-Kei: Retrospective 1955-2006, 14 October - 24 December 2006.

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Lot Essay

Shinro Ohtake was born in Tokyo in the 1950s, but has been based in the remote port city of Uwajima since 1988, working from a studio and shipyard as one of Japan's leading contemporary artists. He typically works with found objects, exploring form, materiality and chance processes through collage, painting, and large scale assemblage pieces. This can be seen in his ongoing Scrapbook series, started in 1977, which was shown recently in its entirety at the Venice Biennale in 2013. The fragmented, often sculptural appearance of his works illustrates Ohtake's desire to explore the intangible, delving into his dreams and layered perceptions, as well as to amalgamate old objects with new.

Retina Shipyard (Lot 124) once again illustrates Ohtake's skilful manipulation of a variety of materials, including paint and wood, and use of collage to achieve an abstract fractured composition. The solidity of the wood and fragments of metal juxtaposed against the fluidity of the paint produces a visceral contrast; moreover, the metal pieces evoke a shipwreck, inspired by the years when Ohtake's shipyard was still used for maritime production. The three-dimensionality of the metal bars brings the piece into the viewer's space. Moreover, the blotchy orange line dividing the composition suggests the effect of light hitting the retina, and is particularly striking against the painting's black background, once again alluding to the opposition of light and dark. In spite of this, Ohtake generally maintains a limited colour scheme of brown and black tones, allowing the viewer to focus on the form of the shapes depicted.

Shinro Ohtake's Retina (StroboII) and Retina (StroboIV) (Lot125) are reminiscent of his Scrapbook series in their range of materials used and highly textured appearance. However, they differ from the Scrapbooks in their muted brown tones and relative simplicity, depicting only a few abstract shapes and lines on a creamy background. With this simple use of line and colour, this Retina series resembles a form of architectural drawing or blueprint. Moreover, the piece's abstract appearance and brown blotches of oil could be an allusion to vague, blurry perceptions of sight, tying in with the titular idea of the "retina". The "Retina" series originates in a chance discovery that occurred when Ohtake was having his works photographed on Polaroid film at his studio, and found a bad exposure in the rubbish bin, reminding him of the human eye and the mechanism by which it conveys information to the brain through visual perception. Moreover, the messy nature of the oil contrasts with the clean linearity created by pencil and ball pen, and could be an expression of the intangibility Ohtake often seeks to explore in his works.

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