Pastel Drawings by Dawn Csutoros : Report from Kurashiki

Kurashiki is a mid-sized town in Okayama prefecture renowned for its historic district.  In the Edo period it was a regional rice collection centre.  Today, a number of kura, storehouses, remain along a willow lined canal within walking distance from the train station.  Today the kura no longer store rice of course.  They have found new life as souvenir shops, cafes, museums and galleries.  It is a very pleasant place to spend a day or two and contemplate.

One of these Edo period kura-cum-galeries, the El-Patio, can be found at the end of a side lane near Ivy Square.  It was established 12 years ago by Ichiro Ohara a member of the prominent, local merchant family and grandson of the founder of the Ohara Museum.  It was his desire, he says, to provide a place for emerging artists to show their works.

From July 3rd till July 8th, Dawn Csutoros, an artist from Tasmania, Australia, held an exhibition of her pastel drawings at El Patio.  The works on paper, varying in size (12 x 80.5cm, 76 x 102 cm, 76 x 102 cm), occupied both floors of the kura.  When asked why he chose to exhibit Dawn’s work, Ohara-san spoke of the work’s “unique sensibility, symbolic feeling, beauty and their ability to give peace to the mind”.   Perhaps his sentiments are shared by most because Dawn’s drawings are, in fact, meditations.

She produces the drawings by slowly, methodically massaging the pastels and dry pigments into the paper with her hands, the pigments merging with the paper.   Layers are added, subtle gradations and intense contrasts emerge broken by horizontals, verticals and curves suggesting forms, light, dark, atmosphere, water, a world of balance that draws the viewer in for closer inspection.  What first appears as a solid field of one colour reveals bands of related, but varied hues.  There is a dualistic sensation of both robust richness and immediacy, and quiet, slow discovery.

It was also noted during the show that these drawings invite interpretation, or perhaps participation would be a better description of the viewer’s experience.  One person commented “delicious”, another expounded at length on the resemblance to the layers of the ocean, and another to outer space.   The generosity of the drawings allows all these readings, and other, to be “true”.   It is an accomplishment, all this from paper, pigment, time, hands and an artist’s vision.

 

Jean -Pierre Antonio  1999

Associate Professor
Suzuka International University  Japan