Graduated from Northumbria University
Selected by Matthew Cowan
'Human beings are endlessly interesting. Human emotion always fascinates me. Through my invented form I am exploring the possibilities of existence.'
The above phrase is from the catalogue of our MA degree show; it is my concise artist statement for it. This has been underlying my motivation since I began to draw animal-like creatures on paper. The creatures I have invented naturally consist of a transient mood or momentary emotion evoked by the fragmentary memories of the present and the past. I believe that they are the embodiment of such a complex state of mind; so I never think of them as kinds of cartoon-like characters. To me, the creatures are essential to realise what I want to do in the field of expression; they would grow in proportion as I explore my interests.
In this exhibition, I use a studio divided into three spaces. I think this contributes to create each of the different impressions (silent atmosphere, a sense of playfulness, and meditative space) relating to the qualities of my drawings. The idea comes from my contemplation of the relationship between the quality of the creature and the characteristics of materials: thin white paper and newspaper in this case. At the same time, in making hundreds of small-sized drawings I found the key to the exhibition, for instance, innocence, fragility, isolation, vulnerability, and so on. This installation work is constructed with these in mind. In the wall-sized drawing, I strive to retain a strength of movement to represent the depth of sorrow aroused by my visit to Auschwitz this summer.
Maiko Kobayashi's artwork is expressed in drawings and paintings of an un-named character. It is a creature which is repeated over and again in her drawings and paintings. It is a simple being, appearing to be like an animal with a child-like face, but it is able to offer facial expressions which belie a deep emotional response to an unseen world.
The repetition of this character in this work is a process that draws on the spectrum of emotional expression. Kobayashi's MA exhibition consists of rows of small fragile drawings pinned close to the wall so that the paper hangs half loosely, and each drawing makes a shadow against the wall. Each single drawing contains a single portrait of Kobayashi's character and together they form a kind of emotional diary in their horizontal line along the wall.
In the second room of the installation is a large scale piece that was inspired by a visit to Auschwitz. Here the characters sit close to each other, gazing out of the image, close enough to comfort each other though perhaps not aware of each other. They have a ghost-like quality, and in their similarity it is not clear whether they are the one or many.
This work has a quietness that highlights the vulnerability of the character in the images. The images work in a comic like style and this familiar mode gives us a framework for approaching the work, in that the cuteness of the character is a way of accessing the emotions contained in the drawings. There is though, an uncomfortable silence in the face of so many renditions of this character's sadness, when the first impression is that we are about to encounter a simple endearing creature. There is a need to develop our own narrative to explain what the creature is feeling, but the newspapers that some of the creatures are drawn on only hint at a likely predicament.
(Matthew Cowan, 2008)
Qualifications and training
- 2008 MA Art Practice: Fine art (with Distinction), Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
- 1998 Certificate in Scenography and Display, The Junior College of Musashino Art University, Tokyo, Japan
Web links - gallery/work/projects