From Whitehouse's Central Park video.
Thanks to the medium of video, the Ben Whitehouse
and Jun Kaneko
exhibits at the Arkansas Arts Center require more than just a casual drop-in. Whitehouse’s real-time video landscapes — of Central Park, a bowl of fruit and the Lake Michigan shore — are hypnotic. So is the soundless video showing Kaneko in the process of building and firing his enormous ceramic sculptures, cutting, pounding, pinching, stacking, painting; the first image is the sun rising, the last is the moon.
There is so much going on in these fine exhibits that words fail, both visually and intellectually. Whitehouse’s large-scale paintings of distant shores and luminous lakes and big sky and Kaneko’s giant “dangos” and bird’s egg blue Buddha head are gorgeous works of art. Whitehouse’s digital videos (24 hours long) are his attempt at creating living landscape. Though he is a deft painter, he wants to capture more.
In the Jeannette Rockefeller gallery, “Revolution: Bowl of Fruit” video is still life and unstill life, both cerebral and funny. The bowl of fruit is unchanging; the landscape, seen through a window in the background, is ever-changing, leaves blowing in a wind, people walking on the beach.
The constant break of the waves on the shore of Lake Michigan in another video (which also uses sound to great effect) is nature unstoppable. The video of Central Park, shot from above, captures the sunlight’s slip from across the Sheep Meadow, the skating rink, the vast stretch of trees in fall, until the park is in shadow. Only the movement of the skaters isn’t subtle.
Along with his traditional landscape paintings is “March,” a collection of square canvasses, arranged like a calendar, depicting a place on the shore, each day different from the last.
In the Wolfe gallery, Kaneko’s 6- and 7-foot dangos stand like pieces of the landscape removed from Whitehouse’s two-dimensional reality. One, zigzagged in gold and blue lines, is like a smooth glazed cactus. There are also those that can’t be translated into something organic, like the black-and-white-striped lozenge that, like a large abstract painting, makes design monumental. An observer can get lost in the moonscape surface of the Buddha head.
The exhibit runs through Aug. 2.