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Cosmic Life/Mystic Light:
Recent Work of Michiko Hoshino

by D.F. Colman

The Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges, in his writings such as Ficciones, portrays and exemplifies the primacy of the imagination. Michiko Hoshino is a master printmaker whose poetically elliptical lithographs echo the writer'srichly fluid creative energies given over to a recounting of magical tales which have entranced 20 th century readers worldwide.

Hoshino's prints are luminous examples of art devoted to the exploration of a cosmic Borgesian world. This world intricately blends elements of the real, the imaginary and the symbolic. Using stylistic techniques which offer the viewer multiple simultaneous views as well as a medley of textures and patterns Hoshino's abstract prints can be characterized as poetically elusive and allusive. The play of visual correspondences which are set into motion in each work is heavily dependent on its dreamlike quality. This adds to the overall auratic beauty of the overall work.

Hoshino's heightened other-worldly sequencing and pacing in her work adds a patina of melancholy to it which is never heavy-handed. Instead, using a different tonal gradations with sensitive skill the artist beckons the beholder to enter into private realms which co-exist, almost as parallel universes, within the same picture plane. Hoshino's world is rife with floating organic or naturalistic passages, spaces that obviously could not co-exist in social reality. In this respect the artist is influenced by a wide array of Surrealistic influences. They include the amoebae forms of Joan Miro, the delicate expressionistic calligraphy of Mark Tobey, the hallucinatory stillness of voided public areas and closed spaces of Rene Magritte, the tensional jagged spaces of Clifford Still. Max Ernst's presence is keenly particularly in his collages which made effective use of jump cuts and montage elements. These combined to present a conflicted irrational and submerged world reflective of opposing realities. Ernst's world as Hoshino's explored displaced, seemingly co-extensive temporal worlds which were simultaneously poetic yet disturbing.Hoshino, though, is a late modern Surrealist with intimations of Romanticism and Symbolism which permeate her work.

She includes phantasmagoric alchemical or geometric schematics derived from designs found in scientific books and illustrations in her work. These superimposed within passages clearly meant to evoke psychic or biologic or naturalistic worlds. The resulting overall insinuations of simultaneity, energy, translucence are palpable. Certainly, what comes across is Hoshino's identification with the alchemist. The wonder-working magician-artifex is that creative individual who transforms the inert materials of nature. She reshapes them according to her singular vision by conscious will for she alone has clairvoyant powers to see the underlying mystical unity underlying all random surface manifestations.

What drives the artist's work in all of its splendor and sublimity is its evident antimaterialist concerns with mind (or the unconscious) over matter, and its belief in the commonality of threshold experiences beyond the reach of cognition.

Now a few remarks on contradictions. What is particularly arresting is Hoshino's capacities to draw out from her work a sense of metaphysical sublimity as well as unease. The crepuscular light, the often eerie juxtapositions of scale and intimations of crevices and haunting negative spaces (true doorways into the unconscious) in her work gives it a richly ambivalent, even contradictory effect. This is all to the good in my book.

The best visual work is often that one which is invested in contrarieties and spatial connundrums. Certainly having a gift for heightening contrasts in a work is an immense advantage for an artist to possess. It forms part of an artist's arsenal of formal devices. In this regard Hoshino is a master of evocation and ambiguity. Many of her works's finest passages are triggered by her uncanny use of oppositional techniques.

Her compositions include random marks and gestures used often as cosmic backdrops to sacred pattern formations such as labyrinths or spirals, petal forms, alluvial, circulatory patterns which reference both the geologic formations in nature as well as interior spacing within the human body. Added to this are the artist's allusions to series of complex numerical and astronomical alignments applied against backdrops which recall celestial events occupying spaces that seem be only inhabited by consciousness.

Let me emphasize another component of the artist's work which makes it compelling and authentic. This is Hoshino's finely calibrated use of light effects in her lithographs --- the key to the enigmatic beauty that rests at the core of each of her works.

Light is explored in two separate ways. The first is its heterogeneous application which allows parts of the picture plane to be illuminated part by part, as fragments. This insinuates the fragmentation of the world which discloses itself as a lost totality in acts of perception, slowly yet inexorably. Equally, the artist is in command of homogeneous light effects which seem to unite larger bodies of spaces together, as large parts of an interlocking cosmic machine which is driven forward to a unifying end. Both homogeneous and heterogeneic effects are applied in the right measure in each work.

The result is the overall sensation which suggests a great knitting together of space and time that is symmetrically and asymmetrically related. What makes the Hoshino's production so vitalistic in effect and so dramatic is her use of light of a visual language whose cosmic perceptions are linked towards an apprehension of pre-logical thought as well as a suggestion that its commonality transfixes all levels of experience.

Michiko Hoshino's artworks astonish us because of the diversity of their sources and their unexpected combinations and effects. The artist's philosophical ruminations come out of a mind fascinated with transient and transitional qualities in space and place. The artist's complex metaphysical meandering is intensified by her source materials, the symbolic correspondences which she sets up within the various spaces in her work, and the different lighting effects applied together to heighten her spatial effects and sumptuously rich tonalities.

Fundamentally, Hoshino's visual work, as in Borges's literary work, allows an environment, a psychic field of openness and a realm of enigma to become manifest. Acting alone each is not a necessary and sufficient state to create the potential for great art. Together they can create visual models of heightened consciousness. Michiko Hoshino, just like the central character in Borges's The Circular Ruins, is " seeking a soul worthy of participating in the universe" through her visual explorations. Her lithographs affirm the status of a work of art as an attempt to express something unique, something that is complete and absolute. On the other hand it is also an integral part of a system of highly complex relationships which are perplexing at worst and enigmatic at best. The oscillation between both poles produces work which is an ode to metamorphoses and transformation, drawn forward by its own radiant sense of self-sufficiency, of its own sense of inner-necessity.

*D.F.Colman is an art writer based in Manhattan.

Text from MICHIKO HOSHINO LITHOGRAPHS, the catalogue of solo-show as ARTSFORUM, New York, October 4 - October 27, 2001.