KIMURA, a Japanese artist who has made a life in France for the past 31 years, is having his first American museum show here at the Phillips Collection. We've seen a lot of Western artists influenced by the Orient; Kimura is the other side of the coin.
What brought Kimura to France from Japan was Bonnard. Paintings by Bonnard that he saw in Tokyo in the 1940s -- and one terrace scene in particular -- so enraptured Kimura that he vowed to move to France and paint there.
Kimura paints lyrical abstractions inspired by the French landscape. The 38 oil paintings in this exhibit he did in his Paris studio from sketches. These paintings speak to light, and the clear primary colors he chooses seem to have light shining through them.
Complementing them are 20 oil pastels -- colorful, calligraphic and childlike scrawls Kimura turns out in the summertime while sitting in a garden on a friend's estate near Cannes. Dominating the drawings are black scribbles like tendrils and vines. Dark, Y-shaped tree trunks are silhouetted against sunset red.
He emulates Bonnard by giving one man's view of the landscape and the light, but his interpretation is clumsier, and more obscure. There are occasional signposts: a sketch of a car, the outline of a chair or bicycle. But mostly we see in Kimura lots of paint, capturing the essence of incandescence.
On the surface, Kimura's "Morning Light" appears as a window on a sunny world: a thickly painted, lemon-yellow rectangle surrounded by bits of brown and blue.
But Kimura says the rectangle was never intentional; it surprised him when it appeared on the canvas. He first views a landscape; he then attempts to convey the impression he observes in himself. His art is a struggle, he explains, between his will to express himself and his obedience to nature.
And he has two goals: to portray the light of a landscape that may have trees, rocks, houses and sky; and to show his own inner state something that has no form.