“The Picturesque in Japan.” Right away, this title of exhibition appeals to me, especially coming from Japanese Artists. They are two. She, Keeda Oikawa, is a painter. He, Toshi Ota, is a photographer. And since several years, they chose to put in common their respective artistic technique, their personal aesthetic approach and their original vision on things. The result is blazing, twirling and always dynamic!
This new series of modern kakejiku (Japanese traditional scrolls) offer us some variations on several themes. Sakura (cherry tree flowers), a traditional scene of spring in Japan, symbolizing freshness and fleeting magic. Asagoa (bindweed), celebrated at the main temple of Asakusa each summer. Kiku (chrysanthemum), a typical flower of the fall season. Nami (wave), a recurrent and whirling motif, which of course evokes one of the most famous ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock print) by the master Hokusai, but also reminds us of the insular position of Japan, with the sea all around, giving Japan its particular position in history and culture. Sadô (art of tea ceremony) governed by four main concepts: harmony, respect, serenity and tranquility, all associated with the inescapable notions of aesthetic of wabi-sabi. A bowl of matcha (green tea powder), this strong green coloured drink which awakens our five senses. Wearing a precious kimono or a traditional yukata (summer kimono in cotton), these types of clothes which wrap the body and build it from outside.
And suddenly, everything explodes, as fireworks in summer time. Between photography, painting, collage, graphic design, clothing patterns, digital images, all together, part of the artworks, have been recomposed by computer. Finally, we don’t know which is what, who did what. He or she? Everything is melting and mixing in a limpid manner, into numerous, superimposed and complementary images, into a lyrical reinterpretation of reality.
Where are the bijin? These timeless beauties, these stereotyped images of Japanese femininity, as we long dreamed about in Occident? Here, the models used are mostly gaijin (foreigners), sometimes considered as strange people by the Japanese. Blonde woman, half-breed or with tousled hair, man with a shaved head as a monk, or with a tattooed-skin.
All these artworks especially advocates exchange and complementary, in spite of duality and multiplicity of our cultures. Between femininity and masculinity, Orient and Occident, tradition and modernity, colours and no colour, shadow and light, transparency and opaqueness, dynamism and tranquility, wave and horizon, full and empty, round and square, the artworks of Keeda Oikawa and Toshi Ota are like Pop poems which sing for us harmony of life.