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Meditations on canvas
by Muhammad Yusuf March 02, 2017
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The Workshop, the reincarnated art space of Dubai’s Vindemia Gallery and Fann-À-Porter contemporary art gallery (both brands are owned by the ebullient Ghada Kunash) is currently (Feb. 5 – Mar. 9) exhibiting the abstract compositions of American artist Juri Morioka.

Morioka is a contemporary artist living in East Village, New York City, who often paints to music. Little wonder: her father is Kenichiro Morioka, who is a composer and arranger.

She was born in Tokyo, but stays in Manhattan. A graduate of the Parsons School of Design, Morioka (the daughter) carries musical, design and fine art genes – which are on charming display at The Workshop.     

If reports are anything to go by, she does not wait for the niceties of art making - initial sketches, deep study, mind images, etc – before setting out to do what she does. She literally takes a meditative plunge into her canvases, much as a child does when confronted with crayons.

The result is a shower of child like works, which evoke an indescribable yearning and raise not a few unanswered questions. What are the answers, then? You have to read the interview following to find them   

* Why do you prefer a direct approach to art? Doing studies or sketches would have perhaps given more depth to your work...

It makes making art more exciting, unpredictable, and challenging. It’s all about the process and finding my way to discover what hasn’t been discovered.

* What is the link between Zen and (your) art?

My painting is very meditative just like Zen. I’m only talking about the process of creating the art.

* Are instinct and intuition sufficient protein to strengthen a work?

Definitely. It’s very difficult to get the core of being, staying far away from the distraction of everyday living. It’s all about freeing myself to let my unconscious direct me to the goal. It’s like improvisation in jazz.

* Why do you find harmony in colours?

They find themselves as I work.

* How do shapes create symmetry?

I do not pay attention as I work or think of symmetry…

* Your “search for peace” took you from Japan to the USA. Yet you find peace only in the heart. Describe your outer and inner journeys.

It’s a difficult question. I make my journey on canvas, and create inner peace thru my art.  

* You belong to the Far East and are settled in the USA. How has the Middle East (a place between the two regions!) influenced you?

I went to Findlay, Ohio, as an exchange student for my senior year in high school. The Midwest tradition of hospitality reminds me of the Middle East. New York is different, but I have many friends there and it feels like home. The Middle East influence, for me, is every single time I come here, I always leave stronger. This place has some answers for me, whatever it is.

* You seem to prefer horizontal brush work. Why?

Actually, I do both. When I work horizontally, it shows the landscape. When vertical, it’s uplifting, physically. Either way, it’s all about being positive, about expansion, and life, and love.

* No doubt your compositions are powerfully evocative. What is the message you give through them?

Whatever the viewers decide to receive. The message is love.

* Why do you like abstract? 

 It’s my language.

Classic to contemporary

The Workshop is located in the heart of the commercial area of Jumeirah 2, Dubai. It is composed of, under one roof, the original company Vindemia gallery and Fann-À-Porter contemporary art gallery. Under the magic wand of founder owner Ghada Kunash, it is now an interior design services division, a design furniture show room and a café with a garden.

Vindemia gallery for antiques deals in furniture, chandeliers, silverware, porcelain, glass, manuscripts and prints, jewellery, mechanical music instruments and pianos, gramophones and radios of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Fann-À-Porter contemporary art gallery exhibits and deals in paintings and sculptures of regional and international artists.

The interior design division offers design services, sourcing material from design furniture suppliers, internationally and from the Gulf region. It embraces original items. The café, surrounded by a garden, provides free wi-fi internet connection, marking it as a place to relax, have business meetings or rent for company or brand events.

A successful architect and interior designer shining a spotlight on the region’s emerging artistic talent, Kunash says that antiques and art were always a passion and a hobby with her – “I’ve collected ever since I can remember; my great grandmother’s silver seal, her sewing machine, her sugar caddy… I lived in a big family in Jordan, so I was surrounded by tradition and culture in a country that is practically an open museum from north to south”.

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