The 701 Center for Contemporary Art is one of the few places in Columbia – besides a museum or mansion – with doors tall enough for Osamu Kobayashi’s paintings to fit through.
They certainly wouldn’t fit in his studio in Brooklyn, but accepting an artist residency at 701 CCA allowed the Columbia native to go big. And go home.
One work, tentatively titled “Dawn Dune,” is a 9-feet-by-11-feet painting of two purple hills and is “the largest piece I’ve ever made,” Kobayashi said.
He created the work using a paintbrush the size of a broom, sweeping it across the canvas in just a few enormous strokes. He made the brush himself by nailing utility brushes from Home Depot together.
“Dawn Dune,” along with 11 other paintings, will be on display Thursday, May 18-Sunday, July 2 in Kobayashi’s solo show titled “Mound.” There will be an opening reception from 7-9 p.m. Thursday, May 18 and an artist talk at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 28 at 701 CCA.
The body of work includes Kobayashi’s extremely large pieces as well as a few smaller ones. All include organic, curvy lines in bright, bold colors.
“I was originally drawn to the (mound) form for its energy and simplicity,” Kobayashi said, adding, “paring it down to just a few strokes gives me a better grasp of what’s going on, what the whole picture is.”
Kobayashi attended local schools Springdale Elementary, Fulmer Middle and Airport High before moving to Greenville to attend the Governor’s School for the Arts. He went on to get his bachelors of fine arts at the Maryland Institute College of Art. After moving to Brooklyn, Kobayashi began to make a name for himself as a non-objective painter.
The abstract nature of his work is the result of painting intuitively and not thinking about what the piece looks like until after it’s finished. Then it becomes a fun sort of guessing game.
Is that black circle a record or a clam? Is that squiggly line a path, a vertical hairdo or an ice cream swirl?
“I like strange interpretations, when people see things that might not be expected,” Kobayashi said.
On being back in Columbia, he said it’s been “comfortable.”
“My mom makes me lunch a lot,” he said, smiling. His parents own Camon Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar on Assembly Street, where he gets dinner often.
His artist residency began in January and will end after the show. Before he leaves, Kobayashi said he’s partnering with One Columbia and the Vista Guild to paint a mural in the Vista. Then it’s back to New York for another residency.
If you go
“Mound” by Osamu Kobayashi
WHEN: Thursday, May 18-Sunday, July 2. Opening reception 7-9 p.m. Thursday, May 18. Gallery talk 2 p.m. Sunday, May 28.
WHERE: 701 Center for Contemporary Art, 701 Whaley St.
COST: Free; $5 suggested donation