In the work of American artist Sam Francis (1923–1994), Western and Eastern aesthetics engage in a profound intercultural dialogue. Francis first traveled to Japan in 1957, developing a lifelong affinity for Japanese art and culture that influenced his work. His expressive handling of negative space shared pictorial and philosophical affinities with aspects of East Asian aesthetics, particularly the Japanese concept of “ma,” the dynamic between form and non-form. The exhibition explores the artist’s work in relation to “ma” and other aspects of Japanese aesthetics, including works by Francis in the company of historic Japanese works to illustrate stylistic priorities shared by both.
In 1938 in New Mexico, a loose configuration of artists came together to form the Transcendental Painting Group, seeking to explore spiritually heightened abstraction by employing free-wheeling symbols and imagery drawn from the collective unconscious. According to their manifesto they strove "to carry painting beyond the appearance of the physical world, through new concepts of space, color, light and design to imaginative realms that are idealistic and spiritual.” Another World is on view at LACMA until June 19th.