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.
Venue: Mizuma Gallery, 22 Lock Road, #01-34 Gillman Bararcks, Singapore 108939
Hours: Tue–Sat: 11am–7pm
When: 14 Apr - 28 May 2023,
By: Mizuma Gallery