Daigoro Yonekura is a Japanese artist who creates abstract paintings that resemble billowing plumes of smoke or ink. At once both mysterious and beautiful, they pull the viewer in, offering familiar shapes and forms but leave us at that: a question-mark, asking ourselves, what exactly are they?

Yonekura explains that the title of his series, “more than painting, less than painting, or anything else,” is a self-deprecating response to viewers trying to recognize and categorize his work, which is often mistaken for photography or computer graphics.

In fact, Yonekura’s paintings are, in his own words, an exercise in returning to painting’s most primitive roots: the mixing of two colors. The artist begins by coating wooden panels with car paint and polishing it down to a super-smooth surface. Then, using a blotch of water-based paint and working with a plastic squeegee, spreads the paint across the surface in a single stroke of action. The surface tension and static electricity results in gyrations and wave-like patterns that give his strokes a three-dimensional quality.

Yonekura’s solo exhibition, “more than painting, less than painting, or anything else,” is on view at hpgrp gallery in Tokyo from Feb 8 – Mar 7, 2020.