OKAMOTO Ellie Exhibition "To See the Voices of the Spirits"(TOKYO)

24 November - 25 December 2010

Mizuma Action (2F) is pleased to announce “To See the Voices of the Spirits”, OKAMOTO Eli’s first solo exhibition from November 24.


OKAMOTO Eli is a young artist born in 1987 in Chiba prefecture, actually enrolled as a graduate student in the painting department of Tokyo University of the Arts. She has received the Taito Ward Mayor Prize and the Mr. O Memorial Prize with her 2010 graduation work, which was acquired by the Tokyo Taito district municipality. While still a student, she has a long history of prize winning that illustrates the high appraisal of her work.


In the present exhibition she is showing numerous fantastic pencil drawings in addition to new oil and acrylic mix paintings.


Presented this time, her graduation work “Spirited Away” depicts children spirited off in the depth of the forest, taken away by packs of innumerable animals. The children seem to play among grimacing beasts that appear familiar; yet their existence remains uncertain. With a touch of fantasy and a texture close to western religious paintings, a lively feeling echoes from the depth of the canvas, breaths almost audible. As you stare captivated by the picture, it drags you to some strange places.


According to the artist, the original Japanese title of the exhibition “utainimamieni” has a meaning close to “Go to reunite with the voices of the spirits”. As “utai” points out the vocal music of Noh, Okamoto’s artworks are consistently and heavily inspired by Noh and folklore, as well as Ainu ideas. The Ainu believe that a god dwells in nature, plants and animals, in tools that surround us. They live with fear and respect for them, deeply connected with the ancient ideas of the Japanese about the interdependency between humans and nature. This kind of philosophy may well be necessary in our time when we denunciate the environmental crisis while leading somewhat contradictory ways of life.


A wolf, said to have once been revered as a sacred creature, appears repeatedly as a symbol in the exhibited works. Wolves, humans and all sorts of other plants and creatures mingle on the canvas. In this universe, Okamoto incorporates traditional folk beliefs and weaves them into a new story. We invite you to discover this unfolding tale that at first could seem quite fantastic, but as you look longer, appears to eventually merge with our reality without limit.