Chiho Aoshima - KYOBAI, Japanese Art and Culture London Wednesday, April 2, 2008 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris

  • Catalogue Essay

    Aoshima’s most pronounced Romantic impulse is her pastime of visiting old cemeteries. “I realized that I like graveyards when I saw a view which reminded me of an ancient ruin. There were trees growing all around, few people, and the various shapes of stones all around were worn away by the acid rain…I have found myself in graveyards talking very normally all of a sudden to people I do not know. I’m sure that people come to graveyards and unbind the strings they’ve tied in their hearts, and words follow out naturally from that. If you cry when you feel like it at a graveyard, you feel so much better all of a sudden. Time flows slowly. I want to go to graves all over the world!”
    The graveyard is a motif in much of Aoshima’s work, both as a place of peaceful contemplation, as in A Contented Skull, but also as a kind of otherworldly city teeming with ghosts and zombies, as in Zombie, 2002. This taste for horror and the grotesque or the Gothic (reflected in Japanese popular culture as well, particularly in film), was also to be found in the Romanticism that came at the end of the nineteenth century in Japan (as well as the West). One example can be found in the work of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, an artist that critic Midori Matsui mentions as a precedent for Aoshima’s work. Yoshitoshi was known for print series illustrating ghost stories (100 ghost tales from China and Japan, 1865), as well as famous murders, depicted with a gruesome degree of detail.
    Aoshima’s eye for nature is also romantic rather than realistic. She describes experiences, like encountering a tsunami or tornado or, more benignly, viewing a mountain or the sky, that are overwhelming in scale and power, creating a sense of awe, and even terror, related to the Western concept of the sublime. These feelings are similar to those evoked by graveyards, in that they inspire ruminations about one’s own smallness, and in that they are terrifying as well as full of beauty. Her use of flowers, insects, and animals can also be decorative and lovely, particularly in the commissioned work she has done for fashion magazines like Vogue and fashion designer Issaye Miyake. But even here, Aoshima’s preference is not for the obviously cute – no fuzzy puppies and bunnies – but for insects, reptiles, and other non-cuddly life forms: “Some creatures are so weirdly shaped it’s unbelievable. I can’t believe they’re from this world.” She also sees natural forms bearing the imprint of a prehistoric (pre-human) world, carrying with them a frozen bit of the past: “I feel an attraction to creatures whose shapes have survived to the present day, like magnolias, ferns, helmet crabs, and insects preserved in amber. The amber is so beautiful, it is almost like time has stopped just inside of it.” K. Siegel, ‘Encounter with a skull’ in Chiho Aoshima – Mr. – Aya Takano, Paris 2006 p.69. 




Colour coupler print, flush-mounted to aluminium.

102 x 135 cm. (40 x 53 in).

This work is from an edition of six plus one artist proof.

£6,000 - 8,000 

Sold for £19,100

KYOBAI, Japanese Art and Culture

3 Apr 2008, 6pm