This article features works by artists showcased by the Tokyo-based GALLERY MAISON D’ART at Hong Kong’s Affordable Art Fair 2019. This gallery, run by Kisako Kimoto, focuses on artwork by female artists and/or with female themes/subjects.
Mayumi Konno specializes in low-contrast portraits of young women with delicate features, large eyes and neutral expressions. Overlaid on the portraits are monochrome teddy bears and/or ribbons. Some of the teddy bears are solid and are being held or clutched, while some are translucent and seem to be floating or falling. The translucent teddy bears cover one of the subject’s eyes like a veil.
This is from the gallery’s description of the artist:
She expresses longing for sure existence and closed world with fragile beauty like girls and cut flowers and so on.
The subject in each painting seems to be at the not-a-girl-but-not-yet-a-woman stage. My interpretation of the paintings is that the teddy bears and ribbons are reminders of childhood (e.g., innocence, playfulness and the feeling of being cared for), and that these reminders can serve as a form of comfort as one is entering adulthood, a time when feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability are all too common.
With one eye, she can see the clear reality of life, while with the other eye she still sees things through the tinted lens of childhood innocence.
The overlay effect she uses is inspired by computer illustration, but her paintings are…well…paintings (not computer illustrations).
Mini-bio: Mayumi Konno is a self-trained artist who is now based in England. Besides participating in solo and group exhibitions, she also works as an illustrator and writes fiction.
Ryo Takahashi’s work tends to focus on nature and portraits of females. One series of paintings he has been working on features a girl and red birds.
To the artist, the red birds represent a duality. On the one hand, they can represent love, luck and happiness, while on the other hand, they can represent worldly desires, evil and tragedy. Children experience all of these things—the positive ones and the negative ones. They can try to catch and hold on to the positive things and try to let go of or escape from the negative ones, but these positive and negative things are all a natural part of life.
One thing I find interesting about the artist’s style is that although he is using ink and pigment, his birds are very textured (almost like oil painting).
Mini-bio: Ryo Takahashi has participated in many solo and group exhibitions since he graduated from Osaka Designer’s College was born 2003. In 2006, he went to study in Hungary for two years and has been active in the Tokyo and Osaka/Kyoto art scene since then.
Satoko Watanabe creates dreamy, ‘mostly’ abstract paintings inspired by she shape and colors to be found in gardens—flowers, leaves, pots and roots. GALLERY MAISON D’ART offers the following brief introduction to her work:
In the garden full of green, flowers and light, she always seeks out ‘the key of light’ that connects the garden and the atelier.
Mini-bio Satoko Watanabe was born in Nara (the town near Osaka and Kyoto that is famous for its freely roaming deer). She graduated from the Kyoto City University of Arts in 1986 and is associated with Gallery Haku in Osaka.
This artist uses an unusual technique when creating her dream-like abstract (mostly!) works—much of the brownish, watery background colors are coffee, and then much of the line work is done with ball point pens.
On her website, she describes the central themes of her work:
The theme of my work is the depiction of organic matter.
I try to pursue that moment of when the soul is released from the body.
Within each image, I deconstruct these forms, rearrange them and then put them back together, inserting a new soul.
In this way, I want my work to express a world in between reality and the imaginary.
This short video shows her pen technique:
Mini-bio: iwata mayuko lives in Nagoya City. She graduated from the Nippon Designer Academy of Fine Arts in Nagoya, worked for a while in advertising and started her career as an artist in 2009. She is associated with Gallery Tatsuya.
This artist’s work are visually striking and instantly recognizable, but I find them unsettling. His paintings feature young, babyish, doll-like girls lounging in photo-shoot style poses, often somewhat provocatively and sometimes blatantly erotically (the ones on this page are ‘clean’ ones). The girls have grayish skin and blank expressions that contrast with the wildly-over-the-top cutesy backgrounds and create a decadent atmosphere.
Given the erotic nature of some of his work, I feel that this is one of those situations where it is difficult to tell if an artist is criticizing a problem—in this case the sexualization of children—or contributing to it (or doing both at the same time).
Mini-bio: Yoichi Nebashi was born in Nagano Prefecture and is a self-taught artist. He has been participating in group and solo exhibitions since 1997, and in 2013 he published his first book of artwork.
GALLERY MAISON D’ART also works with French artists such as Elisabeth Fréring. This artist has a minimalist, dream-like style. She uses simple materials—such as pencil and watercolor, as in the following portrayal of a she-wolf— and a lot of blank space. Fréring states that the silhouettes and vague shapes in her artwork “are reminiscent of residue from images, readings, personal obsessions” and are awaiting metamorphosis.
Mini-bio: Elisabeth Fréring was born in Argenteuil (near Paris) and graduated from the Artes Aplicadas y Oficios Artisticos School in Valencia. She lives and works in Strasbourg.
This section includes discussion questions, an art challenge and links to online photo galleries and websites.
The photos are available in higher resolution (2048 x 1365) at:
Gallery & Artist Websites
- Which painting on this page do you like the best? Why?
- These artists are all represented by the same gallery. The artists have very different styles, but can you point out any similarities in the work of some of the artists?
- When writing about Yoichi Nebashi, I questioned whether he was criticizing and/or contributing to the problem of the sexualization of children. What is your opinion?
Create an artwork in the style of one of the artists on this page.
~text, video and photos by longzijun
Return to Artjouer’s Gallery of Artists