Installation view

Kikuo Saito

April Jump, 2004

Oil on canvas

58 3/4 x 73 3/8 inches

Kikuo Saito
Summer Song, 2006
Oil on canvas
51 3/4 x 62 1/8 inches

Installation view

Kikuo Saito

Sonnet, 2013

Oil on canvas

52 3/8 x 59 1/2 inches

Kikuo Saito
Silver Loop, 1979
Oil on canvas
45 3/4 x 91 5/8 inches

Kikuo Saito
Red Cane, 2013
Oil on canvas
67 1/4 x 56 inches

Installation view

Kikuo Saito

Blue Trail, 2015

Oil on canvas

48 3/4 x 35 3/8 inches

Kikuo Saito

Pen Pen Kusa, 2015

Oil on canvas

59 x 73 1/4 inches

Kikuo Saito
Red Door, 2014
Oil on canvas
79 1/4 x 50 1/2 inches

Installation view

Kikuo Saito
Khrka, 1978
Acrylic on canvas
48 x 62 1/4 inches

Kikuo Saito
Persian Candy, 1982
Oil on canvas
26 1/2 x 96 inches

Kikuo Saito
October Song, 2007
Oil on canvas
60 3/4 x 43 inches

Installation view

Kikuo Saito
Handmade Paper #22, 1987
Handmade paper
36 x 28 inches

Kikuo Saito
Handmade Paper #20, 1986
Handmade paper
28 x 36 inches

Kikuo Saito
Handmade Paper #21, 1989
Handmade paper
28 x 36 inches

Kikuo Saito

April Light, 2014

Oil on canvas

62 x 50 inches

Kikuo Saito
Blue Chair I, 1996
Oil on canvas
58 3/4 x 60 1/4 inches

Kikuo Saito
Uli, 2007
Oil on canvas
55 5/8 x 67 inches

Kikuo Saito

Octavia Art Gallery | New Orleans

May 5 – 26, 2018

Opening reception in conjunction with Jammin’ on Julia: May 5, 6 – 9 pm

Octavia Art Gallery is pleased to present a selection of works from the late artist Kikuo Saito.

Kikuo Saito was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1939 and moved to New York City in 1966. As a young man, he was a studio assistant to Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland and Larry Poons. Along with his painting practice, Saito is known for his poetic theater works that incorporated costumes, light, music and dance. His knowledge of choreography and stage direction have directly influenced his approach to painting. As art critic Karen Wilkin explains, "We discover that characters from his stage pieces have been reincarnated as abstract configurations within his paintings, reborn as the records of animated gestures that retain the individuality of their sources. The backdrop of a performance has influenced the layout and the component elements of paintings. The slow rhythms of a stage piece have somehow been transubstantiated into a slow accretion of marks across a surface.”



Paintings included in this exhibition explore the distinctive styles of color field abstraction that Saito developed over his expansive career. The artist often worked in the soak stain technique, as seen in Blue Trail and Red Door, that he learned from artist Helen Frankenthaler while working as her studio assistant. Within the soak stain technique, flat and deeply saturated bodies of color are juxtaposed against minimal textural paint strokes. He was also known to deconstruct text in his abstract compositions as exemplified in Summer Song and April Jump. These paintings were born out of Saito’s communication barrier as a Japanese man learning the English language. His gestural color field paintings, such as Sonnet and Uli, reflect the sensibilities of New York School abstract expressionism, and his work in dance and theatre. What carries through Saito’s body of work is his bold and harmonious embrace of color, movement and mark making. In addition to his works on canvas, the exhibition will include a selection of unique handmade paper works, which were created collaboratively between the artist and his mentor, Kenneth Noland.

Saito’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. His work is included in public and private collections such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Aldrich Museum, Connecticut; Duke University Museum of Art, North Carolina; AT&T Collection, New York; Estee Lauder Collection, New York; J.P. Morgan Chase Collection, New York and the World Bank, Washington, D.C.

Octavia Art Gallery is proud to be working with the Estate of Kikuo Saito to promote his legacy of color field and abstract expressionist painting.