Iwano is titled in recognition of Iwano Heizaburo, a master paper producer with whom Gorman worked closely until Iwano’s death earlier this year. Relying solely on traditional production techniques, the Iwano family has operated its paper factory in Echizen, western Japan, for ten generations. Iwano Heizaburo worked generously with the artist for more than 25 years to help produce his works on Echizen kozo washi paper, now a central – and celebrated – part of Gorman’s practice.
Iwano brings together a series of colourful paper diptychs, produced on an unprecedentedly large scale. Measuring 275 x 320 cm each, the works’ expanded size lends them a new monumentality, but also a delicacy and fragility; their format evoking emaki, the historic Japanese tradition of painting and calligraphy on scrolls. Each work from the series uses the same repeating geometric motif, playfully titled ‘Squeeze’, in an attuned but unexpected selection of colours, chosen, Gorman says, “not randomly, but intuitively”.
Gorman’s most ambitious body of work on paper so far, Iwano is the remarkable culmination of over two decades of collaboration with the Iwano paper factory. The exhibition also precedes an eventful summer for Gorman, who will mark his 70th birthday on 29 May with a major solo exhibition in Castletown House, Co Kildare.
Born in Dublin, Richard Gorman has lived and worked in Milan since the 1980s and has exhibited regularly for three decades. Major solo exhibitions include The MAC, Belfast (2014); Mitaka City Gallery of Art and Ashikaga City Museum of Art, Japan (2010); CCGA Koriyama Museum, Japan (2003); Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin and Crawford Art Gallery, Cork (2001); Itami City Gallery of Art and Mitaka City Art Foundation in Japan (1999). Gorman is represented in many public and private collections worldwide, including the New York Public Library, Deutsche Bank, the Ulster Museum and the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.