【About Nana Funo: Narrative, Materiality, and a Multi-Layered View of the World】
Nana Funo’s works present a unique, multi-layered view of the world, conceived through interweaving subjects and landscapes from her own imagination and stories she had indulged in since her childhood with richly nuanced and variegated artistic touches.
Viewers are no doubt taken by surprise with the visual effects of Funo’s pictorial space achieved solely through use of acrylic paint –a glossiness almost reminiscent of ceramic and sculptural surfaces, and meticulous brushstrokes painted in a manner akin to embroidery or delicately woven fabric.
Funo often uses the terms “underground” and “deepest self” when talking about her work. Her inner world that consists of memories of her playing with her family as a child, to various stories she has read, things that currently occur in her daily life, and even negative emotions, are expressed through her unlimited imagination.
In the early stages of her practice Funo had searched for what resided within the deepest part of herself, appropriating an introverted form of expression in order to ‘stay inside of her own world.’ She states, “in creating work I descend into the underground inside me to contemplate what it is that I want to depict and what it is that I wish to see. I want to create paintings that lie close to those who may feel helplessly alone and isolated.”
（Nana Funo Interview Video, “The Humidity of Underground and the Feel of Paper,” 8/TV, 2014）
“When I stare closely at the tip of the brush, I feel as if sinking into its very depths. As I pursue subjects inspired by prose and narratives, for instance, a river flowing there, a girl being devoured by a bear here, a field here and whatnot, I find that the various details in themselves coming to permeate the entire work. The works meet their completion when the entire pictorial plane is covered. ”
(Nana Funo, “The Power of Drawing in Creating Narrative,” Bijutsu no Mado, August Issue, 2014)
The drawings that Funo spends three to five hours a day creating in her notebooks serve as a receptacle for her artistic motivation and any motifs she wishes to depict. As she mentions that she “becomes intimate with the motifs as she continues to draw them” –the drawing notebook also plays a role as an implicit energy for the beguiling development of her tableaux.
The works in this way both elaborately and boldly convey sensations of the subconscious, and can be seen to sublimate personal experiences and values into a new and universal world.
【About the Exhibited Works: The Pursuit for Techniques and Means of Expression Without Ties to Style】
Funo States as follows regarding the works presented in the exhibition.
“The works have been depicted by melting and scraping away thick layers of paint using a heated pen similar to a soldering iron. When producing paintings I don’t finish simply with one layer as (in often cases) I work with a method of applying multiple layers of paint on top of which I would depict new images.
I have always considered this layer structure and matière as important elements in my paintings, yet what I find most pleasure in is the fact that only I as the artist of the work am able to directly be involved in its narrative.
I paint villages I have never seen before, and people who I have never met before, upon which I repaint to depict phrases from an ancient song and vines that grow happily in the rain.”
In her 2016 solo exhibition “Connecting with Lines and Giving a Name,” she channeled her awareness towards “subtraction” rather than “addition,” enjoying the various unexpected expressions that arise; adding color onto clear gesso roughly applied by a brush and wiping it away afterwards, only stopping to paint when her eyes are “pleased.”
In the works presented in this exhibition, Funo challenges herself to create new lines and brushstrokes by overlapping and repainting her motifs, and further melting and scraping into the layers of applied paint. Things that at a glance appear hidden and belonging to different layers, in fact delicately relate to one another within the elegant pictorial plane.
The exhibition also includes works that appropriate a more abstract means of expression, as for example observed in her work Key.
“This painting depicts a scene of a meadow opening out (possibly through an effect similar to opening a door with a key). It is a painting of the world itself opening out. It presents a scene of a windy meadow where one notices something and is taken by surprise.”
What is presented here is a narrative world that is more three-dimensional and transcends far beyond real time and space, as a result further stimulating the imagination of the viewer. It can also be considered as reflecting the changes in Funo’s mindset as an artist as evident in her shift from introverted expressions of staying inside her own world, to depictions of the world itself opening out. It further illustrates her dedicated attitude in pursuing various forms of expression without being tied to a specific artistic style.
We hope viewers will take this opportunity to engage with Funo’s new forms of expression that seemingly serve to recall the various memories that have sunken into the depths of our respective subconscious.