Blum & Poe Broadcasts presents a focus on the practice of Japanese-Brazilian artist Asuka Anastacia Ogawa, previewing work from a forthcoming exhibition at Blum & Poe Tokyo. This is the artist’s first solo presentation with the gallery.
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Ogawa’s large figurative paintings depict androgynous children in chimerical dreamscapes, otherworldly scenes formed from solid fields of color and flat picture planes. Her subjects have wide thin eyes that gaze forward, piercing the fourth wall. Ogawa conjures these compositions through an exercise that embraces unmediated impulse and channels the sense of curiosity, wonder and play paramount to childhood.
In one picture—Medicine girl (2019)—under a deep red sky holding a small orange sun, a child kneels below a string of flags that hang from two posts of swirling pastels. Tinctures in small bottles flank her knees while a stream of gray pours from her pocket in a wide arc that defies gravity into the pale earth below. Another picture, Lilly (2019), casts a figure in peach-colored garments clutching a fistful of straw against a solid wall of lilac; her front pocket holds three identical bottles of milky liquid, and a small green alligator drapes across her shoulders. Although Ogawa leaves interpretation of these narratives open to her viewers, symbolically charged imagery such as these point towards mysticism, mythology, and ritual. Ogawa regards her art practice as a deeply personal conduit to a primal place inside, a spiritual channel to her Japanese and Afro-Brazilian ancestral lineage.
Ogawa was born in 1988 in Tokyo where she spent much of her childhood. When she was three years old, Ogawa moved from this vertical urban backdrop to rural Brazil, where she passed a handful of formative early years amongst wandering farm animals and rushing waterfalls. The artist later relocated to Sweden when she was a teen, where she attended high school, and soon thereafter she moved to London to pursue her BFA from Central Saint Martins. Now she is based in New York and Los Angeles. When prompted, Ogawa will describe a certain outsider status that comes with an intersectional identity and a life path that required her to call many countries home. In these paintings—with bewitching scenes of soft-hued skies that frame children as they march with fiber staffs, peer into hand mirrors, or soak their feet in pools of cobalt blue—Ogawa manifests “home.”