Emi Uchida | 内田 江美

Biography

2011  Winter is coming Can spring be far behind?-Emi Uchida Solo Exhibition, Shun Art Gallery, Shanghai
         Taegu Art Fair, Korea
         Young Artists Japan Vol.4, Tokyo Japan
         Art project in Honjima Island, Gallery ARTE, Kagawa Japan
         If we hold on together-Charity auction for post 311earthquake&Tsunami Reconstruction in Japan

2010  Young Artists Japan Vol.3, (received a prize)Tokyo Japan
         Art project in Honjima Island, Gallery ARTE, Kagawa Japan
         Henan art museum international art exhibition, China
         Public collection, Henan art museum, China
         Beijing Studio Center Artist in Residence, Beijing
         Two person’s Exhibition, Hankyu Umeda Department store, Osaka Japan
         Art Fair Tokyo 2010, Japan

2009  Vermont Studio Center Artist in Residence, USA
         Contracted with Onishi gallery and solo Exhibition,Chelsea, New York
         Young Artists Japan 2009 Autumn, Tokyo Japan
         Ziani Art Auction, Singapore
         Collection Private museum, Singapore

2009  Young Artists Japan 2009, Tokyo, Japan
         Nigata Mistukosi Department store, Nigata Japan

2008  Konpira Art 2008, Kanagawa, Japan
         Contracted with Onishi gallery and solo Exhibition,Chelsea, New York
         With Anjin Abe, Two person’s Exhibition Hankyu Umeda Department store, Osaka
         Katachi21 Group Exhibition, Tokyo Japan

2007  With Anjin Abe, Contemporary Art Two person’s Exhibition,
Onishi gallery, Chelsea, New York

2006  With Anjin Abe and Kunihiro Kondo, Group Exhibition,
Hankyu Umeda Department store, Osaka Japan

2005  Worked closely with Anjin Abe

2004  First solo Exhibition, Gallery P(A), Yamanashi Japan

1990 – 2003 Worked as a designer in the fashion industry

1988 – 1990 Studied painting at Joshibi Junior College of Art and Design

1978 – 2004  Studied painting with artist Mineko Ando.

Impression

A New Cosmos Born of Obliteration

Yoshio Kato

Independent curator

 

The work of Emi Uchida first came to my attention about a year ago. I encountered it at a contemporary art exhibition that I curated on the island of Shikoku, Kompira Art 2008 Toramaru Shachu. Uchida was among 13 individual artists and 1 collaborative unit that exhibited works in a traditional Japanese inn, the Toramaru. Each exhibitor had a guest room of their own to present their work in the manner of a one-person show.

Kototohira, the town where Kompira Art 2008 Toramaru Shachu took place, bears the name of a patron deity of seafarers. An eponymous shrine dedicated to that deity has attracted numerous worshippers from throughout Japan for hundreds of years. The shrine and town have been especially popular with authors and artists since the Edo period (1603 to 1868).

Uchida deployed in her room at the inn a memorable installation. She hung abstract paintings on the walls and arrayed Japanese cushions on the tatami-mat floor, and a procession of tiny kewpie dolls stretched over the cushions and out into the hallway.

Especially striking were Uchida’s paintings. From a distance, they offered the appearance of intermingled planes of color. But on closer inspection, they revealed a dense interplay of lines suggestive of a network of nerve cells. Accompanying the overlapping of lines were brief swatches of red, blue, yellow, and other colors.

The impression conveyed by the painted surfaces was of space exploding into infinity. Here were the neural networks of the human body connecting with the unbounded expanses of the universe and transporting with them the viewer. The familiar segued spectacularly into the ineffable.

Uchida titled the painting series Trace. “I use an eraser to delete what doesn’t sit right with me or seems somehow wrong,” she writes. “And when I can’t erase something completely, I obliterate it with lines. That’s a way of rejecting the past. And the remnants of the past rejected sometimes assume an interesting form.”

Thus does rejection and obliteration by the artist spawn new content. Continual destruction was a mode of creation for the 20th-century masters Matisse and Picasso, and Uchida reminds us anew of the artistic potential of creative destruction.

In Uchida’s most-recent works, we find collages and drawings reminiscent of the shunga erotic works of Edo-period ukiyoe woodcut artists. “I have long been a fan of rakugo [a comical-storytelling entertainment that became popular with townspeople during the Edo period]. And that drew my attention to other elements of Edo-period popular culture, such as shunga.” Although shunga could be notoriously explicit, the artists sometimes obscured the sexual depictions in a way that resonates with Uchida’s erasing and over-painting.

Uchida also rejects the past, she explains, by adding charcoal-drawn lines to surfaces of otherwise-finished works. That, too, casts the works in a curious new light. The shunga-like images fade beneath Uchida’s organically linear meshes, as if the artist had placed them behind a reed blind. Her technique stimulates our curiosity about what is going on behind the mesh of lines.

Emi Uchida is an artist who continues to augment her palette with new approaches to rejection and obliteration. She offers a refreshing take on the familiar avant-garde method of burying outmoded ideas and building atop them a new artistic edifice. Let us look forward to the cosmic architecture that will emerge in the evolving oeuvre of this uniquely new-old artist.