‘A Polite Winter’ review by Jeannie Polson
Kenichi Hoshine / James Jean
Shhh… Quiet, please.
‘A Polite Winter’ is described as a conversation between two artists, Los Angeles based James Jean and New Yorker Kenichi Hoshine. Both Jean and Hoshine are illustrators and create exquisite work for high end clientele alongside their own painting practices.
APW was last updated in 2006 and currently features 47 images of what Jean and Hoshine refer to as ‘breaths’. The two artists alternately post their exhalations, with the aim of creating a pictorial and abstract textual dialogue. In keeping with the idea of a conversation, the site’s navigation invites visitors to ‘listen’ rather than to ‘look’.
The initial cells seem to establish a narrative that alludes to a female protagonist and an interlocutor who vascillates between the roles of interrogator, confidante, diarist and lover (cells JJ no. 2, KH no. 3, KH no. 11). ‘She’ appears at times forlorn and reserved, in other instances she is more vital and darkly dangerous. Fragments of text imply a story of loss, journeys and bittersweet remembrances. It is around cell JJ no. 28 that the semblance of cohesiveness dissolves into a more randomized collection of trajectories.
As the name suggests, ‘winter’ is a recurrent theme, projected through the use of monochromatic landscapes and the portrayal of bleak emotion. Sexual overtones coupled with muted depictions of trauma (cells KH no. 27, JJ no. 42) are rendered delicately and resonate with a sense of pain and suppressed emotions. The works are quiet; polite even, evocative of a feeling of silent grief interwoven with the horrors and delights of the subconscious mind.
Hoshine is more visually consistent and returns to threads established earlier in the series. Jean has a tendency to gambol through his repertoire of styles and motifs. Both appear to reference each other, as one would expect in a conversation, creating a soundscape of echoes and whispers and a clever play on the process of dialogue.