“Living in Aging” Yuko IMAI

Nihonga painter, Yuko Imai, is a 25-year old young woman who has touched me with the portraits of her grandmother. The depictions of her grandmother, outside of the politically correct codes of representations, testify to the reality of feelings yet also hints at the ambivalence of emotions. These images of her grandmother is at once, soft, humble, cheeky but also confronting and disturbing.
A present day reality represented in a painting style from which we can sense an undertone of ancient sourced inspiration.
I will now hand it over to Yuko Imai.


When people grow old, they do not simply. Sometimes, they release indomitable vitality.
Facing impending doom, their vitality is peeled bare, clinging desperately to the life.
I felt this when spending time with my grandmother, watching her life as she stood face to face with her imminent end.
By painting and looking at “old age,” and discovering through trial and error what “life” is, I realize that I too am destined to be
deeply fascinated with the process of life and death.
The lives of people are expressed through their wrinkles, the depth of their pupils, as well as the ends of their fingertips.
As someone living in the moment, in the now, I hope to develop my work to pursue the real essence of people I meet.

When I was a child my grandmother suffered a nervous breakdown when she lost her husband, my grandfather.
For the past six years, she has not “lived” aside from eating and sleeping. She now only lives through her own tenacity.
Her only reason for living is her attachment to the mortal body.
No matter what she transforms into, she insists on staying alive, if only to not die.

She discloses her desire to satisfy no one but herself.
Showing a cold glance to others and then a sympathetic smile to her grandchild, she expresses a mix of underlying emotions that are continuously interwoven and in conflict with one another.
The broken mirror in my work symbolizes a collapse in her rationality, and her inability to connect and relate with society.
Though I love her as my grandmother, the broken mirror also signifies my feelings of resentment towards her.

The theme, “Living By Aging”, ponders what it means to live a life.
Recently, Japan has become an aging country, and a trend of the elderly taking care of the elderly has been increasing, and in my opinion, the question of death now overshadows our thoughts on how tolive.
However, the events after the recent Tohoku Earthquake have shown us the power of mankind’s mortality.
I believe that by asking questions and thinking about life and our existence, we will form a new sense of values about humanism.
Yuko Imai

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Exhibition- A Close Look at Kyoto’s Painting Studios

Exhibition at the Kyoto Municipal of Art

August 25 (Saturday) – November 25 (Sunday) 2013

As home schools and private ateliers, private art schools were one characteristic of Kyoto Japanese-style painting (nihonga) that supported the modern Kyoto art world. Various private art schools from Takeuchi Seiho’s ‘Chikujokai,’ Yamamoto Shunkyo’s ‘Sanaekai,’ Nishimura Goun’s ‘Shinchosha,’ Nishiyama Suisho’s ‘Seikosha,’ then later Domoto Insho’s ‘Tokyusha’ and the private art schools of Kikuchi Keigetsu and Nakamura Daizaburo, supported Kyoto art and industry. Here we review the history of the private art schools until the beginnings of WWII.

[ text from Kyoto Municipal of Art ]

http://www.city.kyoto.jp/bunshi/kmma/en/exhibition/collect2_2012.html

See also, article by Matthew Larking, The Japan Times, on “Kyoto Painting Schools Pushed Nihonga to the Limit”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fa20121108a2.html

[image is from the Japan Times]