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Richie turns painter again

by David Cozy

“Donald Richie: Still Lives and Nudes” will come as a pleasant surprise to those under the impression that Richie’s substantial oeuvre begins and ends with his writing.

After studying with the American painter Maurice Grosser, Japan-resident Richie held his first show more than 20 years ago. That exhibition focused on nudes and included some of those on view now, paintings which reveal that Richie had learned much from Grosser, in particular how to impart to his subjects a quiet luminosity by alternating layers of paint and lacquer on his canvases, as seen here in the triptych of paintings Richie calls “Industrial Nudes.”

At first glance, the pieces appear abstract, but closer examination reveals them to be at once bodies and industrial objects. The bodies are perhaps not as sensual as some of the other nudes on display, but the intrusion of sharp angles where one might expect flesh and soft curves does not render them entirely unerotic.

Most impressive among the still lifes is the painting titled simply “Still Life” which, with its calm palette — orange-brown background, light-yellow cheese, pale wine and white cloth — evokes the pregnant hush characteristic of the work of Giorgio Morandi.

The show runs through March 23 at gallery nippon, 3-1-4 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo.