|Ai CHUDA: Others inside of me
|Written by Satoshi KOGANEZAWA
|Published: November 17 2008
Following the solo-exhibition at Gallery Buburindo, Kobe, in March 2008, the second solo-exhibition of Ai Chuda (born in 1980) in 2008, “Others inside of me”, was held at Gallery Neutron, Kyoto. Neutron is full of openness compared with its exhibition area because one wall next to a cafe is made of glass, and dark brown beams on the high ceiling are visible. A rich and beautiful world filled with paintings has been expanded into this space.
The first thing I saw when I entered the gallery was "Hakuin-Ichigyo" (hemp cloth, porcelain clay, Japanese paper, mineral pigments, soil pigments, Japanese ink, ink, charcoal, animal bone charcoal, 2008), a big piece of 193.9cm x 130.3cm, hung at the front. This shows a scantily-dressed old man lying face up. He is so skinny that we can see his ribs; however, we don't feel the weakness we would usually expect in old people. His right hand has been painted in the strongest black using Japanese ink or charcoal, or both. Did this model, an old man, have such sharp hands? Or was the artist intensely interested in hands? On the other hand, the trace of Japanese ink flowing from the body silhouette to the lower side gives a floating feeling to this serious artwork.
On the left side, 13 pictures of the series (each has the same size of 53.0cm x 45.5cm) "others inside of me" (hemp cloth, porcelain clay, mineral pigments, soil pigments, Japanese ink, ink, charcoal, animal bone charcoal, 2008), which provide the title of this exhibition, are placed in parallel. The same model as above is used but there are no definite figures. What they have in common could be expressed as "it looks like a human". Even so we recognize that the subject is facing forwards because parts of his face such as eye socket, nose and lips are faintly but identifiably drawn. However, regarding the eyes, almost of them are just "hollows", not features that we usually recognize such as eye sockets. Nonetheless, why can we surely feel his eyes? Overlapping papers everywhere gives a perception of depth to our eyes, and because of this, occasionally I felt I was being drowned in the depths.
These two artworks, which take a leading part in this exhibition, were created as the artist was getting over the death of her friend's grandfather who had modeled for her for four years. However, they are not just portraits of a particular person. During their creation, memories and ideas about the old man must have been swirling about in her mind. She said, "The loss of one person with whom I had had a close relationship greatly disturbed me, which made it difficult to draw."*1 It can be said that the finished painting shows more than the character of the model.
She does not only use ordinary methods such as drawing lines with Japanese ink and painting with mineral pigments. It is clear from her method of washing the canvas with water or burning it using a burner, that she has seldom created artworks only for the purpose of accurately portraying the subject as it is perceived at first sight. Maybe she feels uncomfortable to portray accurately or she is just not interested in it. Anyway, I think her creative activities finally reached an apex with this "others inside of me".
While she was experiencing shock at the death of the old man, her model, she said, "Anyhow, I felt the strongest ever intention to draw. I thought that I must draw what I don't know if I cannot understand. Just after his death, I kept drawing pictures of the same composition of the same size like a diary, repeatedly. I hoped something would be left in me as I put together these pieces as ‘others inside of me’."*2 Thus, drawing in circumstances that "she did not know", did she paint by abandoning herself to "other", but not the "stranger", inside herself? In a sense, is it impossible for her to understand everything about herself? It might seem that I depend too much on the words of the artist, but "others inside of me” makes me think this way with its different images conveyed in similar forms. Her drawings are not produced only by the definite conscious, for example, beginning with one line, the internal power of the picture itself goes on to produce thirteen artworks that resemble but differ from each other. She kept drawing only frontal view portraits, which shows a clear intention. The point is how to put an end to the struggle between her intention and others, and such a balanced, tense relationship can be seen from the particular drawing of each artwork. This work is born from the death of a person, so I hesitate to say this, but from above, "others inside of me" can be considered as her master work. However, this is because there are thirteen pictures in the series and they are simply but effectively displayed in parallel. Both in a positive and negative way, their atmosphere might be significantly impacted by the other pictures in the exhibition, the exhibition space and the layout.
Finally, I want to add one thing. The works have a cracked surface and peeling pigments which can be seen when we are close to the canvas, and these seem to be caused by the method of using fire and water as I mentioned above, but another reason is that she basically created them outdoors, on the front balcony of the second floor of her house. Sometimes strong, sometimes weak rays from the sun, sand and dust blown by the wind, and raindrops – all have affected the artworks. These natural elements, which never exist in an atelier sealed off from the outside, prevent the artist being in absolute control of the artworks. Natural elements, which do not appear only in these particular works, give the métier a texture that suggests the earth. That should be is the reason why I felt calm nevertheless her artworks have an extreme appearance. The intention to control everything might result in high-quality but might also be suffocating, and prevent others entering the world. The fact that she throws herself totally into her painting, without any hesitation, gives her works a kind of lightness and airiness.
"Ai Chuda: Others inside of me"
|Last Updated on July 06 2010