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CURRENT COLUMN

The Case of the Olympic Posters
The Case of the Olympic Posters

The Case of the Solitary Surrealist
The Case of the Solitary Surrealist

The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt
The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt

The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity
The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity

The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys
The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys

The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard
The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard

The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910
The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of the Archangel Michael Defeating Satan

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2

The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light
The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light

The Case of Leni and the Nuba
The Case of Leni and the Nuba

The Case of the Seductive Souvenir
The Case of the Seductive Souvenir

The Case of the Irish Surrealist
The Case of the Irish Surrealist

The Case of the Developing Dalí
The Case of the Developing Dalí

The Case of Nano-D Technology
The Case of Nano-D Technology

The Case of Dabatable Donations
The Case of Debatable Donations

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of the Long-tailed Monkey

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of Edgar Heap of Birds

Silent Song
The Case of the Silent Song

Aficionado
The Case of Alex and the Art Aficionado

Portrait
The Case of the Privacy of the Publicity Photo

Potter
The Case of the Potter's Portraits

The Case of the Coy Cornelius Krieghoff

The Case of the Political Portraitist

The Case of the Reconsidered Revolution

The Case of the Anabiotic Abbey

The Case of the Phoney Picasso

The Case of Setsuko Piroche

The Case of being on the Forest Edge with Vern Simpson

The Case of Being at the End of the Storm with Loren Adams

The Case of Being: Under the Table with Thomas

The Case of Wyland's Whales on Walls

The Case of A.Y. Jackson's Smart River (Alaska)

The Case of Red Fish with Blue Breasts

The Case of Looe Poole

The Case of Camaldoli

The Case of MS

The Case of the Misattributed Emily Carrs

The Case of the Doubtful Dürer

The Case of the Purloined Picasso

The Case of the Defrocked Duchess of Devonshire

The Case of the First Wife

The Case of the Dodford Priory

The Case of the Unknown Actor

Art Services & Materials


Confessions Back

Practical Art History
(or Confessions of a Fine Art Appraiser)

by Jim Finlay
Finlay Fine Art & Wealth Management
jim_finlay@telus.net

Chapter 17. The Case of Setsuko Piroche

Recently I was engaged to evaluate, for insurance purposes, a mixed media work on paper mounted on masonite by the Japanese/Canadian artist, Setsuko Piroche. I was to make commercial value judgements, based on aesthetic, art historical, critical analysis and artistic considerations, i.e., a formal analysis of a work.

Setsuko Piroche, Untitled

Setsuko Piroche, Untitled, c. 1968

Emily Carr, Somewhere, after

Paul Gauguin, Manao Tupapau, 1892

She is 75 years old and has never had permanent commercial gallery representation throughout her long and distinguished artistic career. Since coming to Canada in 1968, she has abandoned painting in favour of constructing three-dimensional textile wall hangings, or her so-called soft sculptures. She was included in an article in Arts Canada #190/191, Autumn 1974, entitled “Modalities of West Coast Sculpture” by Joan Lowndes which also referenced the work of Gathie Falk, Richard Prince, Al McWilliams and others. She was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1933 and her most recent solo show was at the Studio Art Gallery, Capilano College, North Vancouver, in 2004.

I was reminded, in this regard, of an admonition by one of my now-deceased art history professors who repeatedly warned against looking at a historical work with contemporary vision, thus applying contemporary concepts about art to a work which occupies a different place in time and which is influenced by differing social and artistic sensibilities. In this instance the work is not only separated historically but also, to a certain extent, culturally from contemporary North American notions about art.

Setsuko Piroche left Japan for Canada at age 35, after securing thorough, traditional training in art and travelling to India to study Islamic Art and to Australia where she exhibited at the Hobart Museum (Tasmania) and at the Darwin Museum. She had exhibited in Japan annually at the National museums in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Kyoto and had won first prize in Tokyo in 1957 and 1961.

This work appears to have been completed in Japan just prior to the artist's relocation to British Columbia and may have been included in her first Canadian solo show at the Mary Frazee Gallery in Vancouver in 1969. As Charlotte Townsend-Gault noted in her review of the show in the Vancouver Sun on July 19, 1969, “her work is a good example of the culture gap” [between Japan and Canada], and she further notes that, “Over here, it looks like a decorative kind of expressionism, the decorative modes adapted from styles and traditions seen in the various countries visited by the artist.”

The brooding, foreboding stylistic representation of guardian figures surrounding the central image is reminiscent of Paul Gauguin's Manao Tupapau (The Spirit of the Dead Watching) from 1892, with the central image of a nude woman as a metaphorical representation of new life, replaced with the stylized image of nature bursting forth anew. There is also a suggestion of rebirth, sustainability and stewardship of the natural world as being essential to the continued existence of terrestrial life, and is perhaps a reference to the aboriginal imagery Piroche may have encountered on her travels.

Next: The Case of the Phoney Picasso.

 Mon, Apr 6, 2009