Image 1 : Spirit III 精III 1998 sumi ink, resinous glue, hemp paper, panel 140 x 180cm
Takako Azami is a unique painter in Japan today. While she keeps traditional use of ink on paper, she tries to find potential in ink expression. More than a decade, she has mainly depicted trees. Why trees?
“In the 90’s, I struggled for creating a depth in the picture plane by repeating dots or rings in a rhythmical way. But it would tend to be a so-called minimal art, which seemed to lead a dead end. Rather, I wanted to be more active, initiating the form to be painted by myself, but with difficulty. Then I encountered with the plum tree in my garden whose branches were so complicated and well-structured. I said to myself, that is what I was looking for! To follow the form of the tree meant drawing for me then, and I have done in that way until today”
Image 2 Pine Tree 11/17 203 x 265cm sumi ink, pigments, resinous glue, Hemp paper, panel 2017
The basic color in her work are the blacks of sumi and natural colors of Japanese paper.
Sometimes other colors are to be applied adding some accents and sense of different scene, while keeping the original structure of the pine trees, suo or Cercis chinensis, or Japanese pepper.
As Professor Itakura states, Layers suggest depth. Azami’s work lies within the ink-painting genre (suibokuga), but she also makes use of white (gofun) and glittering elements, like gold and silver, blue and green, or new materials like acrylic. Adding colour into ink painting makes viewers confront how monochrome is always a reduction of the actual chromatic world. Viewers might be reminded of the dazzling white backlight they see when looking up at the sky through tree branches. We sense on the paper’s surface the existence of a light cast by brushwork.
Image 3 Gray net 170301 (New Work) 2017 sumi ink, pigments, resinous glue, hemp paper, panel
Azami is moving on another step for this exhibition.
“Another key word for my interest today is grid. Recently I spend some time in the hospital accompanying my mother. What I can do in the waiting room in a hospital is limited. Still, drawing grid to create an axis in the plane was fun, and the second layer beyond the first layer of grid was of sumi and other colour in variation. Sometimes the green or sumi are strongly perceived in certain area, creating a landscape in the depth.
I am wondering if this new challenge will develop as a series in myself.”