Yamaguchi Ai’s work to date has taken as its expressive vantage point the form of the lives of young women who exist as ladies of the night, in a teahouse supposedly known as touge no ochaya. However, they are also always formulated from Yamaguchi’s earnest, unwavering desire to create something that is felt to be beautiful. In concert with her distinctive “futon canvas” works, she has created pieces exploring various other material possibilities: this varied backdrop to her practice includes washi (handmade paper), wooden panel, shell and porcelain, amongst others.
Yamaguchi’s depictive techniques are informed by her unique assimilations of aspects of Japanese culture and customs, including calligraphy, waka poetry and traditional kimono patterns. In her works’ supple linear qualities and reiterative patterns, accumulated flows of time seem to coexist with the beauty of a single moment in the seasons’ endless vicissitudes.
In “ima to koko ni” the entire exhibition appears as a unified landscape. Intricate works centring on washi and wood are positioned so as to form visual connections between the wall surfaces and the exhibition space, and the delicate paper boat placed at its centre, around which they revolve.
Thought and movement seem perfectly aligned, as though they had smoothly mounted onto waves and begun rowing the boat; and as though these paintings, depicted with a truthfulness of feeling, wished to exist in the same way as the beautiful landscapes that pass before our eyes. Such thoughts form part of the reason for the exhibition’s choice of title, “ima to koko ni” (which may be loosely translated as “here and now”).
In recent years Yamaguchi Ai has presented work in numerous exhibitions overseas, including locations in America, Australia and other countries in Asia. We look forward to welcoming you to this, her first display of new work in Tokyo for five and a half years.
“ima to koko ni”
When I was thinking about what I was searching for, and whether I was expressing myself in such a way as to ever attain it, somehow or other I was led to pick up a copy of NAKAI Masakazu’s book Bigaku Nyūmon (Introduction to Aesthetics*). The words it contained seemed to give concrete interpretation to my thoughts: I felt like I had become able to draw out from within myself the same sense of a kind of discipline that naturally arises when working on a painting for a long time, excavating and then erasing things. This exhibition’s title is taken from this work by Nakai. I chose it because I wanted to flow into that same sense of discipline, and to try to depict what I feel, here and now, within it, in a light, easy way: like the ever-flowing, harmoniously comfortable boat smoothly gliding on; or like the seasons, at once pausing to leave beautiful impressions in people’s hearts and yet never ceasing to move forward. Then again, I also wished for the work to become a substitute for a calm, gentle landscape, formed of emotions that we cannot express in words.
- This English title is an unofficial translation.