Where the Smell Comes from
The recent exhibition by Ayako Rokkaku in the Kunsthal Rotterdam had an expressive title – Colours in My Hand. The young Japanese painter applies paint directly on to the canvas with her fingers. She has used this method for more than ten years. She has painted hundreds of pictures so far and captured the attention of the wider and professional public.
Her work is untraditional from many perspectives: it does not conform to common stereotypes. Her genuine and direct relationship to painting is also predetermined by the fact that she is an autodidact. She paints in the style of alla prima without preliminary underpainting or usual preparatory studies and compositional or conceptual plans. Fascinated by the actual process of painting, she often paints „performance paintings“ in front of the viewers. „Painting always transforms and thus everyone can follow the process of transformation. It is wonderful to participate in the creative process together with the others... “, she said. She often paints large canvases – „live paintings“ – together with the children who participate in the performance.
The artistic vision of Ayako Rokkaku focuses on a narrow scope of motifs: the figures of small girls with big, widely opened eyes and long arms soar in colourful „gardens“, amidst houses, boats and other magical though common objects. All is viewed through the eyes of a child and rendered in an unrefined style, and bright, luminous colours. Her method of work resembles popular Japanese animated films and series, the style of anime and comics manga. However, the method of the alternative storyline of plot elements is more important for Ayako. Her paintings are animated, abounding in stories, excitement and joy, but also in suspense and anxiety. Her work fascinated the renowned Japanese artist and leading protagonist of Pop Art, Takashi Murakami who invited her to cooperate in the VOLTA 02 project in Basel, as well as the well-known French art collector and patron, François Pinault. Recently she worked with Kentaro Kawaguchi (54-71 Group) on the film project „About Us“, launched at the international festival of contemporary art SCOPE BASEL.