Primal Water, the latest exhibition at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art (BGFA), highlights the preciousness of water and humanity’s relationship to it. And in true Las Vegas fashion, light bouncing off the water of the hotel’s beautiful pool comes streaming through the huge windows in the hall outside the gallery to dramatically illuminate a brand-new concept. For the first time ever, the space will feature a human connection of another kind, an Artist-in-residence.
Outside the walls of the gallery, in a new adjoining space named The Artist’s Studio, Japanese artist Kisho Mwkaiyama will spend the next six months painting live and, apropos the name of the exhibition, using watercolors. He will paint eight hours each day, five days a week, and at certain times the public will be able to watch him paint and ask him questions. Since childhood, the artist has been influenced by Buddhist philosophy and art. He will create a series of 24 paintings entitled Vendarta 100: Six Elements and the Seasons. The six elements — water, land, fire, consciousness, wind, and emptiness — are intrinsic to Buddhist philosophy. Mwkaiyama is at the Bellagio launching The Artist’s Studio at the invitation of Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, James Murren.
“Kisho liked the space because of the fact that the windows go right across from the hall into the pool so there is plenty of natural light, which shows his colors in the best way,” said Tarissa Tiberti, Executive Director of MGM Resorts Art & Culture. “He was also happy that it is next to the gallery and connected to art. The theme of water is important to Kisho as well. Each panel is two feet by two feet and when he is finished, all 24 will be on permanent display at Mandalay Bay Convention Center where there is also a lot of light.”
Tiberti explains that Mwkaiyama is painting in a medium called gouache, which is similar to watercolor paint but offers more opaque color. The artist also paints using wax. As he builds up layers of color the light becomes increasingly important.
It is the shimmering refraction of colors in the 50 layers of paint on each panel that will reflect the changing seasons, as the colors change according to the light.
“He paints solid colors,” Tiberti further explained. “It’s really about building fields of color for people to see. His work has movement and will look entirely different if you are standing on the left of it than if you are standing on the right.“
Next door at the gallery, Primal Water showcases the works of 14 Japanese artists spanning four generations and whose individual visions of the exhibit’s theme permeate 28 important works of post war and contemporary Japanese art.
Curated by Midori Nishizawa, the exhibit’s works take various forms from paintings to sculpture, photography, site-specific installations, and film. Each work approaches the theme of water in different ways, from lack to abundance and from the decontextualization of its existence to its relationship with humanity. The exhibition will be on display through October 21st.