1000 words contextual practice

To re-experience the private mental view by touching the outline of half-remembered perception.

Looking back to my childhood, I was always looking forward to a long school holiday. My father lived separately from my family for his job as a mining engineer from when I was 5. Even though he lived in several places, all the places were deep minuteness area in Japan. On the last day of the school term, my mother, elder sister and me would head straightaway to his place by train or bus. The places we were heading to were the opposite of Tokyo where we lived. One corner shop, no station, but dark high mountains and the nation’s purest river. I loved this moment of departure to travel to an unfamiliar place, away from the school and friends that occupied my reality. The unusual everyday which was surrounded by epic nature and the nonexistence of human being were a fantasy for me. When my emotional feeling moved, at the same time, I had a sort of frustration. It was from my confusion of not being able to digest the feeling recieved from the overwhelming wilderness. If a loneliness happens when you want a relationship with someone, the feeling was close to it. “How can I be part of the scene? ” The desire that drive me to make paintings all the time.I want to know how other artists respond to these strong emotional reactioin in paintings.

Peter Doig

“So many of the paintings are of Canada, but in a way I want it to be more of an imaginary place - a place that’s somehow a wilderness”

 -Peter Doig (Judith N, Peter Doig, 2008, Tate, London, p11)

Responses to overwhelming emotional reactions to our landscape and the world surrounding us by painters has been in resurgence. Swedish painter Manma Andersson paints landscapes, classrooms or domestic interiors, all places we are familiar with, but the environment is often covered with shadows of anxiety. A crowd of transparent people in the street of German painter Daniel Richter’s Duisen, 2004, reminds us of an uneasiness surrounded by a crowd of anonymous people in the street. We can see the artist’s private visual memories through their paintings.

Peter Doig has been the most influential painters for decades in this field. Much is known about that his experiences of living in several countries since his childhood such as Trinidad, Canada and London where he studied, influenced him exploration of the genre of landscape. His paintings give audience a direct experience, as if standing inside the painting, looking down uninhabited dusty green basketball courts or peeking through Le Corbusier’s modernist apartment building through dark shadowy woods, modest and homely landscapes, each painting has a characteristic atmosphere.

In his early time, he worked as a scene painter in the film industry. He explored his painting in the weekend and evening, but it was a struggling for him to find a new subject in Canada after studying theater design in London. The memories of London were still with him. Then, one nights, he found his new subject, in the cult horror movie Friday 13th, he took photos of images that caught his attention. He collected images that lead him to paint. He was not sure what he was doing at the time, but he started following his emotional reaction to the visual images. He collected found images from a variety of resources such as newspapers, magazines and books which he was attracted to. His notion of ‘bringing a sort of homeliness into art’ leads him to choose. To give a direct experience with his paintings, he creates compositions which draw the viewers in. The Concrete Cabin series features one of the Le Courbusier’s apartments which he helped to save from being knocked down. He chose to set woods and forests before the apartment. “[…] I would pick the architecture through the foliage, so that the picture would push itself up to your eye. […] that was a much more real way of looking at things, […] ” (Judith N, Peter Doig, Tate, 2008, p13 ) . In Blotter 1993, his brother deliberately flooded a frozen pond to get a better reflection off the surface of the ice. We can’t know of this altered natural reflection but the paints dazzling texture of surface of the pond and a world of pink forests in this painting is enough to give a view of the scene through the painter’s eyes. This

creates a dream like scene which is abstract in essence yet also fully believable.  

Makiko Kudo

The modern Japanese painter Makiko Kudo who has been described as an artist from the “Micro Pop” movement by art critic Midori Matsui in her curated exhibition “Winter Garden: The Exploration of the Micropop Imagination in Contemporary Japanese Art” in Art Tower Mito in 2007 in Japan. Accroding to Matsui’s manifesto,   

”Micropop” is used to describe the attitude or approach to life that creates an unique and original path of living or aesthetics by combining fragments gathered from various places, without relying on institutional morals or major ideologies.[…]”minor” position vis-à-vis the major culture that surrounds them, in the same manner as immigrants and children do. Those people – forced to function within the major culture without having sufficient tools to do so – make do with what they have, trying to fill in the gaps through leaps of imagination,….Micropop represents an attitude that expresses the efforts of individuals, in the final stage of post-modern culture, to find a way to survive.-.., the people of Micropop have broadened the possibilities of renewing our sensation, and giving rebirth to the values of the world in which human live.” (Midori Matsui, The Age of Micropop: The New Generation of Japanese Artists, Parco Publishing, Tokyo, 2007)“

Micropop is an aesthetic movement of a certain group of Japanese artists born between 1968 and 1980 when raised to frame during the 1990s and Japan’s “Lost Decade” of radically declining national economy. Compared to their parents’ generation who celebrated the new nations rapidly growing economy, young people of Makiko’s generation had started having doubt to the worship of growth. This led them to the action of not growing, becoming adult-children was the way they express their resistance to the old generation and society. To give up changing, the mood of melancholy covered them. For example, describe herself as “A sad monster” in answer of “who are you?” in an interview of Phaidon. (Phaidon, Inside the mind of Makiko Kudo, https://uk.phaidon.com/agenda/art/articles/2012/february/27/inside-the-mind-of-makiko-kudo/ ) I can see her sensitive emotional personality in her lyrical atmospheric painting. The relaxed and honest brush stroke carries the dense colour compositions  and reflect her imaginary world. Plants and flowers are frequent motifs in her paintings. They are drawn evenly and equally with care one by one. Building, road any inanimate objects are brought to life in freshness and simplicity of form. We can see similarity in Herni Rousseau’s paintings. He never mastered any traditional method, the leaves were painted carefully individually, figures are rigid and more like wood. The time of the introduction of industrial machines, beauty and creativity were eliminated from from the work of people, pure immediate expression of an artist’s sense was considered to be true creativity by society at that time. Her delicate brush strokes remind us of the naïve artist. For being Japanese and her manga illustrated style figure may lead to be linked under “superflat” [1]declared by Takashi Murakami. However, Makiko doesn’t use manga itself as her main theme not as much as other artists from Kaikaikiki such as Aya Takano who  describes herself as a manga writer. Makiko’s manga style figures appeared from her unconsciousness. In the same interview she said “The world has so much trouble, but I think it’s still beautiful ” Her attitude is not to deny the world outside of her own, the children in her paintings are her resistance and suggestion to a modern

society of establishments of institutions, an example of a what the boundaryless world could be like.  

To re-experience by making paintings is the a to process overwhelming issues such as nature or societies, that’s we cannot change easily. Like Henri Rousseau and other Sunday Painters they indulge themselves in their imaginary visions and fantasies, and escaping from unavoidable reality. To paint is to fill the gap between their ideal reality and the reality outside of their studio. Artist’s imagination is a way to understand ours scene. It appears as a mark the painter’s gesture on the surface of the painting. To break to the surface owns of private view allows us to see hidden elements in our world.


Judith N, Peter Doig, 2008, Tate, London

Midori M, The Age of Micropop: The New Generation of Japanese Artists, Parco Publishing, Tokyo, 2007



Judith N, Peter Doig, 2008, Tate, London

Charlotte M, (2006) Painting People, Thames & Hudson Ltd, London

David E, (2011) Bye Bye Kitty!!!, Yale University Press, United States

Carolyn K, (1976) Henri Rousseau, Academy Editions, London

Bobbefantenmuseum, (2003) Peter Doig – Charley’s Space, Hatje Cant Verlag, Germany

Werner S, (2000) Henri Rousseau: Dreams of the Jungle, Prestel, New York

Tate (29.12.2018) https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/pop-life-art-material-world/pop-life-art-material-world-explore-15

[1] Superflat; A term created by Takashi Murakami to take inspiration from the visual styles of Japanese popular culture from otaku, anime and manga to the cute kawaii aesthetics to a leveling out this between high and popular culture.