New Works by Doug Coffin | From Far East to Southwest
Ellsworth Gallery has taken the Eastern inspiration behind Doug Coffin’s work as the impetus to present "Full Circle: Doug Coffin, from Far East to Southwest," an exhibition that integrates our previously divided areas of concentration. The exhibition title, "Full Circle," refers as much to the graphic forms present throughout Coffin’s work as it does to the sense of “coming full circle,” to reconsidering the relation between Western artists and Eastern aesthetics.
Western art has taken inspiration from the East, particularly since the opening of China and Japan to colonial interests and initiatives around the end of the 19th century. Doug Coffin’s inaugural exhibition with Ellsworth Gallery highlights this deep inspiration, and at times appropriation, that artists located in the West have in relation to Eastern sources — from Van Gogh’s composition and Symbolist sensibilities, to American abstraction and its relation to Zen philosophies.
Coffin’s work harnesses the power of symbols common to both Eastern and Western visual regimes. Suns, moons, and other cyclical features of indigenous systems of knowledge draw formal parallels with the essential elements of symbolism present in many suits of Samurai armor on display. The elegant and angular shapes in the maedate, or frontal decoration on many helmets, echo the curved and horned elements of Coffin’s sculptures. "Ceremonial Zen Sun (Eclipse)," a circular canvas by Coffin, mirrors the forms of rounded Samurai helmets known as jingasa. The rich red of Coffin’s "Abiquiu Zen #2" echoes that of the jinbaori. The red cloth displayed in the jinbaori, or “camp coats,” was originally imported by the Dutch and English, further emphasizing the exchange, material and cultural, between East and West.