(Born in 1959)
The Virgin of the Rocks
signed 'S. o' in English (lower left)
oil on board
68 x 43 cm. (26 3/4 x 17 in.)
Painted in 2005
Shinji Ogawa - Interfering Worlds, exh. cat.,Osaka, Japan, The National Museum of Art, 2006, p. 36. (illustrated)
Osaka, Japan, The National Museum of Art, Shinji Ogawa - Interfering Worlds, 30 September - 24 December, 2006.

Lot Essay

Shinji Ogawa's brilliance in his painting technique tricks the spectator's eyes with his altered depiction of celebrated paintings, prints and photographs. Ogawa conducts visual alteration with the removal of the iconographic imagery from works by renowned painters such as Da Vinci to revitalize a new aesthetic vocabulary and perception to a suspiciously familiar painting. Ogawa's rearrangement instantly coalesces into a new temporal-spatial flow, as he requires the viewer to reassemble a scene around the missing imagery and relies on the spectator's own aesthetic perceptions.

The artist galvanizes an intuitive distinction from the spectators with his erudite understanding of empiricism; a philosophical theory that all knowledge is derived from the experiences of the five senses, especially based on perceptual observation. The Virgin of the Rocks is based on Da Vinci's second Madonna of the Rocks which hangs in the National Gallery in London. It is clear from the title of the Da Vinci painting that the primary focus should be the central figure, the Madonna. However, upon examining Ogawa's rendition of the same subject, the modern viewer takes away an entirely different concept of the Immaculate Conception. By taking away the Virgin, attention is drawn towards the definitive light source from the heavens or even the phallic shaped rock formation in the background. Indeed the lack of the Virgin in a painting entitled The Virgin of the Rocks suggests that the conception was indisputably immaculate as the 'mother' is not even represented.

The subtraction of the Madonna exercises the viewer's memory and perception, enlightening a new phenomenon through Ogawa's artistic taste in spatial construct and art history. He challenges the nature and the scope of knowledge of the viewer and also himself. The tastefully minimal alteration of the classical antiquity only culminates in his works and his intellectualism, complimenting his fine imitation of any ancient artist's brushwork.

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