Artist Statement for Expo Chicago 2021
My work explores the ambivalence between individual identity and the surrounded environment through deeply psychological portraiture and figurative imagery. Revealing a vulnerable perspective as a foreigner, minority, and female, the figures in my works are self-reflexive; as well as nonspecific others.
By juxtaposing flat and volumetric imagery, and the combination of culturally specific and non-specific objects, it reflects our current environment; a mix of global, vernacular, and things between them. My work reflects an endless quest of finding personal utopia within a world of contradictions.
Although the works may appear as portraiture, the layers of historic female figures and their stories that explores the complexity of gender identity and cultural exchange.
In the exhibition at Expo Chicago, I propose two series of works; one is paintings of women in Sengoku Period (Warring State Period) in Japan, and the other is a dreamy, ‘escape’ series. Sengoku period was the time when most of samurai families involved in wars against each other. Women of samurai families played important roles during this period. While many of the women ended their lives as tragic figures, some lived and contributed to sustain their families. They were brave survivors who steering their lives during one of the most difficult periods in Japanese samurai history. For example, Mochizuki Chiyojyo, a widowed samurai woman, was appointed to work for a famed samurai, Takeda Shingen. She was appointed to train women who disguise as shrine maidens to collect information on the enemy states. Although she was in ‘behind the scenes’, she played an important role of providing information, which was crucial to negotiate with or to battle against enemies.
The paintings can connect these historic female figures and modern geometric forms by juxtaposing these two very different elements. These geometric forms are based on circles, which universally refer as female, as well as sun, rotations, wholeness, and many other local meanings. This universality is used as a key to connect to viewers from different cultures.
This series is also metaphors of our lives during this pandemic, which has also became a historic event. Even though it can be seen as tragedy, there are always people who survive as they did in history.
The other series is dreams of escapes. During the pandemic, it became very difficult to travel. As my family and I are very cautious, we did not make any over night or distant travels. We postponed our annual holiday trip to Florida where my partner’s family live. Though, we still had desire to visit somewhere to escape from the reality of this pandemic. I looked up some imagery of Caribbean beaches, mountains, foreign tourist spots to dream of visiting there one day. To me, these images existed only as virtual worlds even though they are actual photographs. This aspect made me begin to developed to abstracted landscapes of escapes.
As the result, both of the series of works appear similar in aesthetics. Which is understandable, since both of them-historical figures and re-imagined landscapes from online pictures-have two aspects; real and unreal. The gaps between them are filled with our imaginings.