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Winnipeg Free Press, September 25, 2008

Mixed Media & Installation Kazu

By Stacey Abramson

It's always refreshing to experience artwork that is done out of total enjoyment of creation. While it's true that many artists will say they create "art for art's sake," not many of them can execute this message effectively. The plainly named exhibition Mixed Media & Installation by local artist Kazu (whose full name is Kazuteru Miyauchi) springs from this vein of artistic creation and features soft, relatable and organic works.

Kazu is much like Semai Gallery director Takashi Iwasaki in that he came to Winnipeg to study art -- a trek that I feel speaks volumes about the reputation of our city's art scene. I recall seeing his work while in art school and being charmed by his massive tapestries, which mix brightly coloured blobs of paint across a soy sauce-stained background.

The last work that I saw by Kazu was at Semai in a 2006 exhibition. Those works examined little bits of daily life through installations of drawings, earthen materials (dead leaves, twigs and dried flowers) mixed with the interesting textures of manufactured products like plastic sandwich bags and drinking straws. While he hasn't shown extensively since then, it's evident through the works in the exhibition that he has been artistically active for the past two years.

Of his work, Kazu says: "I work spontaneously and haphazardly. Therefore, the source of ideas and control over my projects is determined more by my feelings at the moment of execution than rigidly planned ideas and structures. Flexibility and adaptability to the materials are very essential and important factors of my art-making. As a result, the outcome is more simple, uncultivated and raw."

This is immediately evident when one examines the work in the show. It is clear that he goes where the works feel like they should go. For example, throughout many of the works, what would normally be seen as accidents -- such as paint spills -- become intentional successes. Kazu purposely makes these smears and glitches throughout the artistic process and lets their organic and unexpected forms embody the feel of the work. He goes with the flow (literally) throughout each of the works, creating an authentic fluidity.

The series of untitled mixed media paper works suggest a playful awareness. His work, while very abstracted and offbeat, is somehow comforting and accessible -- a function of the simplicity of the forms he creates, combined with the materials and colours he uses. The shapes that move within the works have a natural and calming feel to them. Kazu is letting the viewers play along with him in following the flow of the work.

Kazu's grasp of the vibrancy that art and everyday life can have is both admirable and enjoyable. The exhibition is a refreshing approach to the world around us and the idea of what art can be. It's a welcome and lively show to experience.

The Original Article by Stacey Abramson in Winnipeg Free Press