kaba ni yu wo heru

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Solo exhibition by Ai Yamaguchi
14 April – 28 May 2023
Vernissage in the presence of Ai Yamaguchi (artist): Friday, 14 April 2023, 5pm – 8pm

Mizuma Gallery is pleased to announce kaba ni yu wo heru, a solo exhibition by Ai Yamaguchi.

Japanese artist Ai Yamaguchi is known for her fictitious world based on the lives of young female courtesans working in a teahouse on a mountain ridge during Japan’s Edo Period. Her first solo exhibition in Singapore, kaba ni yu wo heru, features recent works based on Japanese tanka poetry. There exist countless Japanese poems that express human emotions in an intimate, almost palpable manner, defined by the rhythm of 31 characters (syllables), and with a lyrical quality that still appeals to us today. To her, reading through these 31 syllables really feels as if watching 31 leaves flutter down one after another. These words, as they fly by one by one, are keen enough to salvage us, but they are also sharp enough to slash us. This applies to any situation in any age, and nowadays, according to the number of means of communication, a single word may either bring peace or start a war. The experience of randomly catching a word in passing that instantly makes us feel happy or sad, is one that every human has probably encountered at least once. In such situations, the letters that we read or hear, seem to linger around us while flexibly changing their appearance.

It is the way that such “letters” form words, which are then communicated in the form and rhythm of poems, that intrigued Ai Yamaguchi. Tracing back the history of letters and their original meanings inspires her to create paintings that illustrate how humans are unconsciously guided by the power of letters. The artworks shown in this exhibition are based on the idea of how poems function as continuous chains of words, and how words are aggregations of letters that only make sense together.

kaba ni yu wo heru, a solo exhibition by Ai Yamaguchi, runs from 14 April to 28 May 2023 at Mizuma Gallery, 22 Lock Road #01-34 Gillman Barracks, Singapore 108939. The gallery will open from 11am-7pm on Tuesdays to Saturdays, and 11am-6pm on Sundays. The gallery will be closed on Mondays and Public Holidays.

In conjunction with the launch of the exhibition, an opening reception in the presence of Ai Yamaguchi (artist) will be held on Friday, 14 April 2023, from 5pm to 8pm. This event is free admission, and is open to public. To register your attendance and to meet the artist in person, please RSVP at info@mizuma.sg by Thursday, 13 April 2023.

A digital publication featuring images of the artworks and a note written by the artist about her artworks will be available on www.mizuma.sg.

Text: © Ai Yamaguchi and Mizuma Gallery.


About the Artist

Ai Yamaguchi (b. 1977 in Tokyo, Japan) established the group “ninyu works” in 1995 after entering Joshibi University of Art and Design, Department of Design and Crafts in 1995. Her works feature a unique support material below the picture surface, and are expressed with supple and delicately-drawn lines, often depicting women who live as ladies of the night in a teahouse on a mountain ridge, known as the touge no ochaya. Taking as her model the culture and customs of the Edo period, she accedes to the legacy of various forms of Japanese beauty from rinpa art to classical waka poetry. In doing so, she continually searches after a unique kind of ideal beauty: a renewed iteration of the classical Japanese form of paintings of beautiful women or bijinga. Her works have gained widespread acclaim both within Japan and internationally. Significant exhibitions in recent years include “Kamisaka Sekka: Dawn of Modern Japanese Design” (Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, 2012), “The Grand Kojiki Exhibition – Feelings and words handed down from past generations to the future” (Nara Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan, 2014), Meiji Jingu Forest Festival Art “Shikansuiyo – Beautiful Forest and Nature” (Meiji Jingu Museum, Tokyo, Japan, 2020) and solo show “yamaai no uta” (Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo, Japan, 2022). Ai Yamaguchi lives and works in Tokyo, Japan.

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