by Verlag Wilfried Dickhoff .
Written in English
Asuka is the name given by Leiko Ikemura to a series of mainly small-format paintings which contain allusions to objects such as ships and aeroplanes. The name has a long tradition which goes back to the origins of Japanese culture. Rendered in the most common Japanese script Asuka means flying bird . Yet the name has a number of different meanings, ... such as asu-ka ( literally the scent of tomorrow ) or a-suka (literally peaceful retreat). The written form is taken from various poems in Manyoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), the first major collection of Japanese poetry (4.500 poems in 20 volumes) mainly compiled by the poet Otomo no Yakamochi in 759. ... The Asuka period (in Japanese Asuka jidai) was an important time in Japanese history, named after the location of the imperial palaces and the residence of the Yamoto polity Asuka-kyo. It began in 552 with the official adoption of Buddhism. During the 150 years of its existence the first written constitution was produced, containing 17 sections on ethics and politics. ... The Asuka period also saw the first mention of the name Nihon for Japan, composed of the signs ni (meaning day or sun) and hon (meaning origin, roots or beginning). By naming her series of paintings thus, Leiko Ikemura places the works on a semantic horizon which juxtaposes initial and concluding phases of the historical formation of Japanese cultural and political identity. An oscillation develops between text and image, between the verbal transmission of how national identity originated and the visual intimation of a war which signalled a provisional end to this cultural history. It is not necessary to know the titles of individual works Marine, Pacific Ocean, Warship, Hikari (Light) to realise that they concern battles between the USA and Japan in World War II; this becomes clear from the figurative references to ships, aeroplanes and the lights given off by missiles at night. Ikemura neither judges nor represents; we can experience both the grievance about the horrors of war and grief for the loss of a blooming culture, but only to the degree that the act of painting itself conveys these emotions. This process takes place up against a subject which itself cannot be represented: war, which, as Jean-Luc Nancy comments, exemplifies the grandiloquence of heroism . ... Can painting confront war? Leiko Ikemura explores this dubiety while avoiding illustrative and other principally inappropriate attempts at representation by allowing the theme to be an abstract motif. This motif provides her art with a necessary level of conflict, with the intention of parrying her impossible subject. The subject matter remains unresolved due to the non-identical nature of painting, but by using painterly means it is touched, encircled, addressed and passed on as an invitation to reflect. The name Asuka exponentially increases the diversity of allusions, affording us time to ponder, time which the complexity of the subject demands, which would do justice to the complexity that is conveyed of the subject. ... In the sunken atmosphere which the Asuka paintings breathe, the material presence of the painting converges with the symbolism of ships and aeroplanes sunk at sea. It is a moment of commemorating the atrocities and destruction, the victims and consequences of this and all wars which were (and still are) fought with these machines, serving nationalistic megalomania and economic interests. And herein lies the beauty of the Asuka paintings, for true beauty is the opposite of beautification and can be experienced solely in a moment of unexpected horror. ... (Excerpts from the essay ASUKA by Wilfried Dickhoff)
|The Physical Object|
|Format||Painting, contemporary art, warships, airplanes, pacific war, seascapes|
|Number of Pages||64|
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