Ai Yamaguchi: Oyasumi
October 1, 2004 - December 3, 2004

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Ai Yamaguchi: Oyasumi

AI YAMAGUCHI: Oyasumi

 

October 1st - December 3rd, 2004

 

 

SHAHEEN Modern and Contemporary Art is delighted to announce Oyasumi, an exhibition of new work by 27 year-old Tokyo based painter Ai Yamaguchi.  There will be an opening reception for the artist on October 1st, from 5:30 - 8:00 p.m.  The exhibition will continue through December 3rd.

 

For her first U.S. exhibition outside of New York or Los Angeles, Yamaguchi will transform SHAHEEN's exhibition space into a sprawling narrative installation of paintings, works on paper and wall drawings.  Entitled Oyasumi, the exhibition will constitute the latest installment in Yamaguchi's ongoing chronicling of the lives of nine young girls living and working as courtesans at Togue no Chaya (The Brothel on the Mountain Pass), a fictional, unlicensed brothel of the artist's imaginative conjuring.  The paintings and works on paper that comprise Oyasumi ( -- "good night" in Japanese) will coalesce into a narrative depiction of Togue no Chaya's nine young residents preparing for bed, falling asleep, dreaming, and eventually waking up to a new day.  Precariously perched between the conflicting spheres of their adult oriented professions and their own adolescence, Yamaguchi's fictitious young girls convey both child-like melancholy and industrious resolve.  Each one possesses a distinct personality and demeanor, which continuously unfold and evolve in concert with Yamaguchi's ongoing visual depiction of their lives.  Along the way, the artist explores issues of innocence and innocence lost, sexual identity, and her relationship to her own body.

 

Incorporating prevalent characteristics of both traditional and contemporary Japanese image and art production, and keenly observant of the longstanding and ever-evolving exchange of artistic and cultural influence between east and west, Yamaguchi's work offers a sophisticated synthesis of history, personal experience, and fictional narrative.  Visual hallmarks of Japanese scroll and screen painting, and prevalent characteristics of traditional Japanese Ukiyo-E woodblock printmaking blend with elements of contemporary Japanese illustration and animation in the artist's seamless visual fields.  Yamaguchi's lush, exquisitely executed paintings on canvas and paper display a sharp attention to, and exceptional technical facility for rendering detail and texture that derives from her academic background in textile design. 

 


Articles/Reviews
A suble sensation / The Plain Dealer

A subtle sensation brings show to Shaheen gallery

 

The Plain Dealer

Oct 22, 2004

 

Dan Tranberg

 

Japanese painter Ai Yamaguchi is quickly becoming an international sensation. In the past two years alone, she's had three solo exhibitions at major galleries in New York and Los Angeles, and last year she did a series of drawings for the packaging of a line of skin-care products by Shu Uemura, a high-end cosmetics company.

 

Now, Clevelanders can see what all the fuss is about by visiting Yamaguchi's first U.S. solo show outside New York or Los Angeles: the exhibition "Ai Yamaguchi: Oyasumi," currently on view at Shaheen Modern and Contemporary Art.

 

The 27-year-old artist flew in from Tokyo for the opening reception earlier this month.

 

The exhibition of nearly 30 works quickly explains the artist's popularity; every piece in the show is exquisite. With an unfettered flair for sensuous lines and gorgeous patterns, Yamaguchi merges traditional Japanese painting and printmaking techniques with contemporary illustrative styles often associated with Japanese animation.

 

But unlike many young Japanese artists who are feverishly bridging the gap between fine art and popular culture (such as Yoshitomo Nara, who was featured in a sprawling solo exhibition last fall at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland), Yamaguchi leans toward subtle beauty more than bold graphic appeal. Originally trained as a textile designer, she is remarkably attuned to minute details.

 

Beyond their sheer visual appeal, Yamaguchi's works are fascinating for the story they tell -- an ongoing chronicle of nine fictional girls who work as courtesans in a brothel. The tale is not presented in a linear progression, but rather as a series of vignettes in which the girls are often sleeping, and are either alone or grouped with other girls.

 

The subjects, who always have blue or green eyes, appear to be positively innocent, though occasionally the depictions imply a touch of sternness or perhaps sadness. Each girl has long, flowing black hair and is shown against a blank background, sometimes on richly textured Japanese paper.

 

The impression they leave is one of delicate, complex sensuality, which is exactly what distinguishes Yamaguchi from many of her popular contemporaries.

 

Earlier in her career, she worked as a studio assistant for Takashi Murakami, a hugely successful contemporary artist whose work ranges from cartoonlike paintings and sculptures to enormous inflatable balloons and commercially produced merchandise such as watches and T-shirts.

 

While quieter and far more subtle, Yamaguchi may be on a similar trajectory. You can buy one of four T-shirts she designed for Giant Robot, a hip Japanese pop-culture magazine (www.giantrobot.com), for $20, or a pick up a bottle of Shu Uemura cleansing oil (www.shuuemura.com) with one of her drawings on it for $60.

 

But rather than spoil it, commercial success will most likely serve to enhance the complexity of Yamaguchi's art. If there's a fault to it at all, it's in the work's utter humility.

 

"Ai Yamaguchi: Oyasumi" is on view at Shaheen Modern and Contemporary Art, 740 W. Superior Ave. in Cleveland, through Friday, Dec. 3. Call 216-830-8888.

 

Ai Yamaguchi
Yumehashira, 2004
acrylic on Japanese paper
12 x 8 1/2 inches

Ai Yamaguchi
Yoiyoi, 2004
acrylic on Japanese paper
8 1/4 x 13 inches


Ai Yamaguchi
Tsukiyoshiyoruroshi, 2004
acrylic on hanmade paper
60 x 120 inches

Ai Yamaguchi
Oyasumi, 2004
acrylic and ink wash on paper
22 x 22 inches


Ai Yamaguchi
Oyasumi, 2004
acrylic and ink wash on paper
22 x 22 inches

Ai Yamaguchi
Oyasumi, 2004
acrylic and ink wash on paper
22 x 22 inches


Ai Yamaguchi
Mubataamnoyoru, 2004
acrylic on hanmade paper
60 x 57 inches

Ai Yamaguchi
Matanoasa, 2004
acrylic on hanmade paper
120 x 60 inches


Ai Yamaguchi
Koishinu, 2004
acrylic on hanmade paper
60 x 57 inches

Ai Yamaguchi
installation view, 2004




Ai Yamaguchi
installation view, 2004



Ai Yamaguchi
Dokkoi, 2004
acrylic on hanmade paper
45 x 63 inches


Ai Yamaguchi
Yumehashira, 2004
acrylic on Japanese paper
12 x 8 1/2 inches