The theme of my exhibition is identity shown through Japanese mythology. I wanted to make artwork based on the knowledge I had about Japanese ghosts as well as researching them in depth to stay in touch with my Japanese culture. I'm very fascinated by abnormal and scary art in general, and I wanted to paint in a scary style which I felt would shock and intrigue the audience. I wanted to be able to tie all my pieces together with a common theme, while also adding a personal element to it so I included the perceptions I had of identity in each of my pieces. The chosen artworks provide a diverse range of my skills in using different media and art styles.
The first piece I made relates to self-esteem and was inspired by Junji Ito, who creates stories of beautiful girls with a creepy and twisted element to their appearance. I related it to my experiences with self-esteem which I thought about most when I was in my room, so I made 2 paintings to compare high and low levels of self-esteem in a bedroom setting. I created this in acrylic after exploring different media as felt it could replicate the effect of manga drawings with the opaqueness of the colors and ability to create fine details. This piece was essential for me to understand where my exhibition was headed, and the process of how I was going to make the other pieces as well. The next piece is about a girl arriving late to a party but still maintaining her composure and owning her identity, going against the norm (as she only appears in the night). I was inspired by my sister who sometimes arrives late and I used watercolor for this which I felt added a traditional Japanese painting feel which I replicated from Ikenaga Ieyasu. Another piece was of cats who appear to be acting like humans, showing a diverse range of personality and appearance and being yourself around friends. I decided to do it in the Renaissance style inspired by Renoir for this piece. I also included a piece about a smoking girl with a snake tail hiding aspects of her identity but shows that she cannot control her addiction. This piece discusses smoking addictions which I felt was a common issue seeing the young girls around me. A piece that was more personal in my exhibition was the skeleton piece which shows how adults treat my opinions (skeletons sitting in a field that farmers had worked hard to create and are eating breakfast on it). Another piece is of my dad who is a mentor to my identity which have was expressed by sumo wrestlers. The last piece is a sculpture of a dollhouse which represents people trying to be something they are not. In this way, all my pieces have been inspired by firsthand experiences and have allowed me to extensively research Japanese myths to understand my culture more. Each piece used a different artist to attempt different style or media.
Acrylic on canvas and paper
66.5 x 44.5 cm
Kuchi-Sake Onna is a slit-mouthed woman. The paintings are in a bedroom which is where self-esteem is built by young girls. It’s done in a Junji Ito style to show the contrast between black and white to a room with color. In one piece a girl is sad due to her appearance and is posing for social media, in the other a girl is doing her sisters hair. This relates to identity and how people can help you gain self-esteem, shown by the red line leading from the eye to the door and color in the room.
The Smoking Girl
Acrylic on Paper
34.5 x 34.5 cm
Shows Nure Onna who is a snake like woman. She is by a pool to show how prevalent this issue is. The lower half of her body is covered by a towel to show her hiding her true identity similar to her smoking addiction, but her tail and melting face symbolizes that she unable to control the addiction and hide it. It was done in very bright colors to add a psychedelic element due to the use of drugs (smoking) and also replicate David Hockney’s style as he uses vibrant colors and paint pools.
Late to Party
Watercolor/acrylic on paper
38 x 28 cm
Shows Rokurokubi which is a woman with a long neck. The inspiration was taken from Ikenaga Yasunari who's paintings are done in a Yukio-e style (uses soft features and colors to paint women). A girl in a kimono is seen getting out of a car holding a cake which aims to show her arriving late to a party as this ghost only appears in the night. This is meant to show the girls confidence in identity and herself worth to do what she wants.
Oil on canvas
59 x 83.5 cm
Shows Sumos to show the role of fathers who can be calm like Sumos but angry like an Oni. A contrast of the destruction and powerfulness expressed by Oni with the calm and collective sportsmanship of Sumos in shown. The red color symbolizes rage and aggression which contrasts with the calm scenery which was inspired by Bob Ross’s art style. A rising moon opposed to a sun shows the importance of calmness and guidance by fathers along with femineity to parent along with a father figure.
62.5 x 31 x 23 cm
Shows Kappa who are turtle creatures, that live in bodies of water including the bathroom. Dollhouses portray an ideal lifestyle, but I used this to show that having a lavish lifestyle (not being yourself) is not better. A living room with expensive items is compared to the simple setting of a bathroom which is the natural habitat of Kappa. The Kappa in the living room have a rabbit costume on to further show they are trying to be something they are not and have a sad face as a result.
Oil on canvas
50.5 x 76 cm
Shows the myth of Bakeneko who are human like cats. I painted three cats, doing a range of human activities and of different breeds being themselves. This piece was inspired by the diversity of identities, and I thought it would be interesting to show this through cats. It is done in a style inspired by Renoir using oils as I wanted to explore the use of light and shadow and effectively show detail in the cats. I also painted three cats as it is commonly seen in woodblock prints of Bakeneko.
Acrylic on canvas
75 x 100 cm
Shows Gasha Dokuro who are giant skeletons that destroy buildings and eat humans. Shows the destruction of self-esteem and ideas of the young by adults as the skeletons are having a picnic in the middle of a field showing carelessness of the work of the farmers. The breakfast symbolizes a new hope or rebirth and the skeletons eating this shows destruction. The use of the field (inspired by Nancy Merkle) and salt and pepper shaker (contains small humans inside) show how big these skeletons are.