Miwa Ogasawara "Soliloquy"

SCAI The Bathhouse

poster for Miwa Ogasawara "Soliloquy"

This event has ended.

Miwa Ogasawara is based in Hamburg, Germany. Her work has been collected by various institutions in Europe such as the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Burger Collection in Switzerland, and various important museums. Since moving to Germany in 1997, Ogasawara has only rarely returned to her home country, working out of her home base of Hamburg and exhibiting chiefly in Europe through one of the city's top galleries, Vera Munro. For this reason, Ogasawara's work is almost unknown in Japan but much feted by European and American curators and collectors.

Ogasawara's work seems to not fit any number of categories that have been applied to Japanese painters from the same generation, who tend to use narrative elements and situations combined with fine brushwork to express contemporary sentiments and the uniqueness of Japanese culture. Ogasawara's worldview appears to be entirely different from these tendencies. Each and every element in her painting is carefully regulated and controlled. Her palette tends towards controlled grey tones, with a remarkable balance between light and shadow. Similarly, her composition is typically extremely simple, often focusing on interiors, which she depicts with rare grace and prowess: these paintings have been made terse and compact to the point of approaching abstraction, like a sort of Bauhaus construction. Even in works that center on people, these people have made relegated to just another object-like compositional element.

In this sense, Ogasawara's paintings are figurative without being narrative, depicting a world that lacks a sense of solid time - frozen, still, forever. This attribute of her work shows the influence of the 19th century Danish painter Wilhelm Hammershoi, who painted enigmatic interiors and female silhouettes seen from behind without grand narratives embedded in such depictions, instead bringing to the fore the profound mental character bordering on spirituality that permeated these everyday landscapes. This reading of Hammershoi's symbolic mode of painting is perhaps key to understanding the work of Ogasawara more than a century later.

Also discernible as an influence here is the particular sensitivity to the light of northern Germany as seen in the work of the 19th century German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich, whose paintings of bleak northern German landscapes were attentive to the quality of the light: clarified, with a sense of the sublime. Ogasawara's work perhaps owes something of its transparent atmosphere to Hamburg's light and Friedrich's own treatment of similar scenes.

This exhibition features some 10 large and small canvases, depicting women perched on the edge of bathtubs, rooms bathed in pale light through curtains, the hands of young women in black clothing, the feet of these same women dressed in white, seaside landscapes - subjects which collectively portray the frigid, somnolent psychology of this environment.

[Image: "Businesshotel" (2008), oil on canvas, 140 x 120 cm]



From 2008-10-03 To 2008-11-08


Miwa Ogasawara



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