Robert Yasuda composes subtly iridescent paintings that are at once ethereal and architectural. He investigates the fugitive qualities of light and human perception by layering diaphanous veils of acrylic paint and sheer, woven fabric atop sculpted wooden panels. Shrugging off the conventions of painting and its role in Western history, Yasuda rebels against the rectilinear painting frame and introduces new means of framing and context.
As the corner-mounted work in this exhibition demonstrates, he liberates the painting from its traditional place, forcing it forward into space giving it a sculptural quality. His works often assume different guises according to changes in light and the viewer’s vantage point. As the artist has explained: “I am trying to create visual symbols of transcendent moments both in the act of perception and realization.’’
Yasuda moved to New York in the late 1950s where he attended the Pratt Institute. He began exploring themes of perception, light and nature in the early 1970s, producing resoundingly abstract paintings. He would dry the delicately layered canvases under the scorching sun in Florida, where he still spends half the year painting in the Keys. Increasingly, he became fascinated with the different character of his works when viewed in natural light versus artificial light.
Robert Yasuda has been recognized with awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His works are in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; the New York Public Library; the Bass Museum of Art, Miami, Florida; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas.
Born in 1940 in Lihue, Hawaii | Lives and work in New York and Sugarloaf Key, Florida
Element, 2014, acrylic on fabric on wood, 10.1 x 1.5 feet/3.1 x 0.46 meters