“Toru Seno: From Cradle to Grave”

by C.B. Liddell

Maru Gallery
Closes in 24 days

An icon is an image that gains mystical and symbolic power by being artistically emphasized. The four works by 38-year-old artist Toru Seno in his first solo exhibition at Tokyo’s Maru Gallery (www.marugallery.com) are a good example of this. Seno selects objects that are already ripe with meaning — such as a Stone Age arrowhead, a sunflower seed or a woman’s nipple — then brings out their full iconic potential by focusing on them in enlarged, precise pencil drawings mounted on canvas.

The picture of a nipple, titled “Mamma,” measures 180 × 121 cm, giving the details of skin the grandeur of landscape. The lack of color adds to the iconic effect and is intentional. “I never use color because things exist between brightness and darkness,” Seno says. Sealed in a thin layer of beeswax, the works also vary with temperature, looking more translucent when warm and mistier when it’s colder.