From The New England Journal's archives, our review of Misaki Kawai's now closed February exhibition “Kung Fu Forest” at LaMontagne Gallery:
Wherever the Japanese-raised, Brooklyn-based artist Misaki Kawai goes, she seems to trail twinkling pixie dust. For her previous Boston show, in 2007, she filled the Institute of Contemporary Art with her exuberant dollhouse space station. In "Kung Fu Forest" at LaMontagne Gallery, she offers a dozen endearing Cute Brut paintings and three sculptures of lumberjacks, birds kissing, people and a dog paddling down a green river, and guys kicking each other in the groin. I can't decide whether my favorite is the one of the two kids walking and holding hands with the bear in the green tank top and shorts or the one of the wall-eyed, gun-toting green Rambo guy in an orange jumpsuit. Kawai adopts a faux idiot-savant style — her characters look like something a second-grader scrawled, done up in bright acid colors on dumb-ass expressionist backgrounds. Her people and critters remind me of Gumby and his pals — blank-eyed, bizarre, stretchy, and wonderful.Misaki Kawai, “Kung Fu Forest,” LaMontagne Gallery, 555 E. 2nd St., South Boston, Feb. 21 to March 28, 2009.
Previously: Misaki Kawai's "Space House" at Boston's ICA in 2007.