Posted:May 29, 2011

Sweet Fantasies, Serious Narratives

Sakae Ozawa’s “0.5 Sekunden auf einen Planet” exhibition at Mori Yu Gallery Tokyo.

And when Gulliver woke, he realized that his body was pinned down by people the size of his thumb… Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” is a unique tale about a man who stumbles across various imaginary countries with people different in both size and character. It is now a well-read bedtime story inspiring the adventurous spirit in youngsters, though its main themes are beyond most children’s comprehension. Swift grapples with the innate morality of man, racism, religion, and political criticism, keeping the novel fresh for both kids and their parents alike.

Sakae Ozawa’s world of little girls in billowing dresses flirting with flying whales and dancing bears carries a similar feeling of sweetly masked seriousness. Mori Yu Gallery is currently showcasing several of Ozawa’s works under the title “0.5 Sekunden auf einen Planet”. The German phrase translates as “0.5 Seconds of a Planet”, a quixotic title that leaves it up to the viewer to decide what it means.

Her pieces range from little frames to wall-size canvases, and capture colorful, fantastical worlds without ending up merely as paintings to smile at.

Sakae Ozawa, 'Yubisaki kara ginga' (Galaxy from Fingertips) (2010)
100x356cm Oil on canvas

The first thing that calls out to the viewer is the color: sometimes vivid, sometimes vague, each pigment is carefully mixed and made personal by the artist. None of the colors can be delineated with any precision. Turquoise and grey trees shake their leaves against a background of khaki mountains and a ghostly-white pony cuts through a fragmented sky of lavender and navy, but Ozawa’s palette renders futile all such attempts to nail down her colors with names.

Sakae Ozawa, 'Kinou no miine' (Yesterday's Miine) (2011)
53x53cm Oil on canvasStanding in front of the work, one realizes the variety of techniques employed in constructing each piece. With the occasional switch from the paint brush to the pallet knife, Ozawa scratches, dabs, and even splashes paint on to her canvas. One painting of whales swimming in the night sky — a work yet to be named — is decorated with splatters of dripping vivid color, although the whales themselves are done smoky and translucent.

There are also calculated depictions of certain details, with outlines and without; some shown as cut-out shadows while others are boldly drawn out, and a delicate balancing of color with figure that bestows visual as well as conceptual depth to the finished product.

Ozawa imbues each of her canvases with a story and titles them accordingly either before or after their completion. Her suggestive titles stir the imagination. The portrait of a girl titled “I Would be Lying if I Said I Wasn’t Lonely” would instantly start weaving a narrative even in the most unimaginative of minds. However, she rarely bothers to explain them. As the gallerist at Mori Yu explained, Ozawa wishes each picture to be the viewer’s own personal creation.

Figurative and dreamy, Ozawa’s paintings may seem girly to some. When you look at her work, there is something there that makes you feel you have to take it seriously. The visual sensations created by the colors and brushstrokes, and the ever-compounding details draw you in, demanding contemplation. Much like Gulliver and his adventures, each piece is a delicately crafted story that could be merely cute or infinitely complex, depending on the viewer’s imagination.

Chisako Izuhara

Chisako Izuhara

She was always interested in people. Chisako escaped her mother's womb in 1990 but only entered the real world in 2008 upon starting school in Tokyo. There she found herself amidst a crowd of crazy people, ideas, and action which made her want to learn more about them. Studying a variety of subjects in school ranging from the history and philosophy of science to Buddhism, her schedule book is always full with various art exhibits and events. The vibrant Tokyo art scene always keeps her busy but she also likes to relax at her favorite cafe and drink coffee while reading a book on travel.