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Divergent Artists Makoto Fujimura and Jeni Spota C. Open Weisman Museum Spring Season

Artists Makoto Fujimura and Jeni Spota C.

On Saturday, January 13, 2024, two new exhibitions—Makoto Fujimura: Water Flames and Jeni Spota C: Encore!—opened the spring season at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, the first time more than one exhibition has been presented in a single season at the museum in 21 years. With their singular styles of painting and approaches to religious imagery and content, the works of these artists sit in fascinating juxtaposition. 

Weisman Museum director Andrea Gyorody observes, “The pairing of Makoto Fujimura and Jeni Spota C. might seem initially surprising, but their bodies of work equally demand sustained, attentive viewing. Both artists are also deeply invested in art history and in painting as a vehicle for exploring one’s place in a chaotic, interconnected world—which is exactly what we most need today.” 

Fujimura’s nonrepresentational paintings are made using traditional Nihonga materials, with gentle washes of natural pigments on hand-pulled paper. His work, he says, “has been called ‘process driven’ and ‘slow art’ and I think it’s accurate to describe it that way.” Fujimura explains that his preparation to paint is a very slow, deliberate endeavor, in which he painstakingly prepares the materials he will use before he can begin. These practices help him generate the contemplative mindset that he pours into his art. “[The process] really slows me down, and the work tends to be very much meditative rather than illustrative,” he says. Nonetheless, Fujimura does not see his paintings as impressionistic. “I don’t consider my work abstract because it’s really about reality,” he says. 

The paintings of Spota C. reflect her fixation with Giotto’s 1306 fresco of the Last Judgment. Using a palette knife and thick layers of paint, the artist has recreated dozens of scenes from the original painting, expressing the breadth of the unfolding drama. “The whole idea of the Last Judgment scene—it’s like you’re getting the entire human experience. You’re getting all types of human emotion, people being tortured and then people in pure ecstasy, and everything in between,” she says. The Weisman exhibition will also include a series of Spota C.’s paintings that explores the connections between painting and magic. “I’m always trying,” she explains, “to connect the things we know with the things we don’t know.” 

The two exhibitions will run until Sunday, March 31, 2024. A keynote lecture by Fujimura followed by a short film and presentation by his wife, lawyer and CEO of Embers International Haejin Shim Fujimura, will be offered at Stauffer Chapel at 5:30 PM on Thursday, January 18, 2024. After a Q-and-A session, guests will be invited to join a public reception.

An opening reception for the exhibitions will be held on Saturday, January 20, 2024, from 2 to 5 PM at the Weisman Museum. Refreshments will be served and art activities for children will be provided in the courtyard. At 4 PM, Jeni Spota C. will be in conversation with museum director Andrea Gyorody. Seating for the conversation will be first come, first served. Registration for the reception is recommended but not required.

Spota C. will also present an artist talk on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, at noon in the Weisman Museum, focusing on the trajectory of her work from graduate school to the present. Registration is not required.