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Sush Machida Gaikotsu

Japanese, b. 1973

CCC Surf Love

Acrylic on wood panel
11 x 72 x 2 in.
Gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation

In this long, spray-painted panel the horizontal body of a stylized fish forms an undulating expanse of brightly illuminated openness that extends from the darkness of a starless night sky at the upper left (and just right of center) to the crashing waves of the ocean at the lower right.

At once a still life and a landscape, Gaikotsu’s multipurpose work is also an emblem of luxury and fun. The interlocked Cs of Chanel’s world-renowned logo appear to have abandoned their place on handbags and sunglasses to ride a wave along the Orange County coast, as indicated by the title. Not to be overshadowed by the symbol of high-end refinement, Gaikotsu has smuggled his own initials into this hardworking painting, whose streamlined efficiency packs loads of subtle punch into a composition that is a pleasure to behold because it never feels overcrowded or comes off as being overburdened or presumptuous.

Just to the left of the pair of owls, whose blended colors recall sunsets, neon lights, and Ed Ruscha’s famous paintings of the Hollywood sign, can be read, in chocolaty brown, the S of Gaikotsu’s given name. Beneath it is an elongated M, representing his family name. That letter links up with an angular G, whose spindly form Gaikotsu has wrapped, like a vine or a branch, around the lower portions of the Chanel logo’s swooping curves, awash in the froth of a crashing wave.

Realism and fantasy come together in this playful picture, which weaves together the artist’s admiration of traditional Japanese compositions with his love of contemporary American pop art. Born in Japan in 1973 and based in Las Vegas since 2002, Gaikotsu is no stranger to the complexities of multilayered conversations. His picture is about good luck and abundance, strength and subtlety, food and desire, sustenance and satisfaction. In his hands, painting is the place everything comes together, giving viewers ample opportunity to enjoy it however we please.

David Pagel

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