A Japanese artist living and working in Brooklyn, Susumu Kamijo has become internationally known for his paintings of poodles. Exhibiting at a string of smaller, hip galleries from 2016 to ’21, his poodle canvases evolved from small, colorful, and cartoonish to large, graphic, and sublime. Initially attracted to this breed of dog’s unique form by observing his partner, who is a dog groomer, attending to a poodle, the artist eccentrically made it his subject matter for painting—finding new, inventive ways to render it each time he started a new body of work.
In his two-venue “Jack & Venus” show at Venus Over Manhattan and Jack Hanley Gallery, where he had a one-person exhibition in 2020, Kamijo presents a lively series of abstracted, pared-down poodles in nature. Breaking the dog’s bodies up into bold, vibrant shapes—both organic and geometric—he surrounds the poodles with trees, suns, and moons at Hanley and by birds, foliage, water, and celestial forms at Venus. Dynamically rendered in paint and pastel pencils, the playful paintings ironically depict poodles, but the impact made in their imaginative portrayal far outweighs what any customary cute dog art could possibly do.