Challenging the conventional with the unconventional

Art galleries love exploring the concept of time, with plenty of exhibitions showcasing the recollections of the past and foretellings of the future. Upcoming exhibition Eyes & Curiosity—Flowers in the Field, on the other hand, takes on a different approach by bringing forth age-old ideologies and chucks it against the unrelenting current of time to test its relevance in a modernised society. Held at Mizuma Gallery from Mar 16-Apr 21, it will feature four Japanese artists with varying backgrounds taking on contemporary reinventions of traditional techniques. 

Painting under the pseudonym Ai☆Madonna for over 10 years, Kato Ai has amassed a cult-following of animation fans with her vibrant illustrations of anime-styled girls. Kato Ai began as a street performer on the streets of Akihabara, affectionately dubbed as the otaku (geek) capital of the world, where she painted doe-eyed, bright-haired girls on the side of her stationary van. Heavily influenced by the kawaii culture that greatly characterises Japan, her subjects are caricatures of “untouchable” beauty that only resides between the pages of a manga or frames of an anime.

For centuries, eroticism across the different mediums of art typically bases itself around the shapes and lines of the female anatomy. Ryoko Kimura flips this notion on its head and substitutes the roles of heavily sexualised women with portrayals of ikemen (good looking men) instead. As a stark contrast to the heavily implied eroticism, Ryoko Kimura renders the manga-styled subjects against a traditional backdrop or adorned with motifs inspired by the Edo-period.

Taking his artwork beyond the confines of a two-dimensional piece of paper, Kobayashi Satoshi gravitates toward carving his pieces on panels of wood, often incorporating elements of nature to match his primitive wood-carving techniques. These panels of carved wood often tell a story, complete with signature geometric lines that emphasise on the movement.

Lastly, Aichi Prefecture-born Rina Mizuono explores textures and dimensionality in her works. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for perspectivism, Mizuono ensures that depth is encapsulated and detailing is immaculate in her craft. Though she works upon the flat surfaces of blank canvases, her technique brings motion and colours alive.

If you've always been fascinated by the conventionally unconventional world of Japanese art, be sure not to miss this one. 


Eyes & Curiosity—Flowers in the Field runs from Mar 16-Apr 21 at Mizuma Gallery, from 11am-7pm on Tue-Sat and 11am-6pm on Sun. More information available here.