Exhibition: Patterns of Shadows, by Pip Dickens

Heaven & Earth, 2008, oil on canvas © Pip Dickens

“…we find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates.” Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows.

There is some argument in Japan about whether or not ancient temples and shrines should be lit with electric lighting. Some say that the shadows created by natural lighting are important, and I would tend to agree.

These “patterns of shadows” are what the British artist Pip Dickens is exploring in her new exhibition at Daiwa Foundation Japan House in London. Referencing Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s essay on aesthetics, In Praise of Shadows, as well as her own private collection of katagami stencils and kimonos, Pip Dickens has created a series of works using bespoke tools, combs and ‘dysfunctional’ brushes. The effect is intriguing, with some pieces feeling meditative and others much more striking.

Matsuyama Kagami (The Mirror of Matsuyama), 2012, oil on canvas © Pip Dickens

Accompanying Pip’s paintings at the private view last night, there was a soundtrack of experimental electronic music by Monty Adkins. Separately, I wasn’t sure I understood the paintings or the music, but when I stood and gazed at the intricate details in the paintings, I suddenly noticed the details in the music, and something clicked. I recalled the feeling of visiting a local temple in the Japanese countryside and losing myself in the shadows of the wooden building while listening to the rain dripping outside. The feeling was the same.

Composition #7, 2011, oil on hand-dyed and washed canvas © Pip Dickens

Patterns of Shadows by Pip Dickens is at Daiwa Foundation Japan House and will run until 17th April. The gallery is open from 9.30 to 17.00, Monday to Friday, and is free to enter. For more information, please visit their website.

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