The Slutty Eye: Junko Yamamoto at Gallery IMA

[Editor's Note: This piece has been corrected since it was first posted. It originally described Yamamoto as having arrived in Seattle "a few years ago" but she has been here for over a decade. Also, the name of the show was incorrectly given as "Shunyata." That is the name of a series of Yamamoto works, only some of which are in this exhibition.]  What the heck happened to Junko Yamamoto? She instantly became one of my favorite painters a few years ago with her easy charm and reckless palette of aquamarines, pinks, and pine greens. I loved the sunny pop spirit she brought to abstraction, and the way she slathered, brushed, and stenciled her canvases with such obvious pleasure in the paint itself. The charm is still there in her current show, but the recklessness is not. Her previously wild colors have been tamed into a facile harmony of floral hues. These paintings could almost be wallpaper for a little girl's bedroom. What used to be a recognizable style has become a dispiriting sameness. A video loop of images from her paintings fails to deliver the missing jolt of energy.

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