Hide & Seek, presented by Art Projects Gallery, is a solo exhibition by renowned Japanese artist, Mayuka Yamamoto, featuring her latest works.
Yamamoto (b.1964, Okayama, Japan) is known for her oil paintings portraying children in animal suits or possessing animal features, as a way to reveal their inner world. Like a protective armor in response to their emotions and psychological state, they seem to instinctively hide behind a second skin in the form of animal costumes or some other defensive physical animalistic features. In some of the pieces, Yamamoto also paints settings inspired by nature, further enhancing the contemplative space into which the subject seems to find solace in the dreamlike natural habitat.
Yamamoto’s oil paintings often appear reticent and introspective. At first glance, the child characters in Yamamoto’s works seem to be devoid of any emotion or facial expression, that when juxtaposed against the subtle ambience settings painted in soft, muted color tones, exude an aura of otherworldly calm and demeanor that belie their true emotional and psychological states.
The subtle tension portrayed in Yamamoto’s works becomes a powerful expression of the inner psyche stemming from childhood fears, that has been the central focus of Yamamoto’s works since her pregnancy in 2002 when she began to reflect on her own childhood and explored the ideas of natural instinct, parenthood and the anxieties related to growing up. A boy in an animal suit, and sometimes growing animal features, became Yamamoto’s way of representing the physical and psychological changes experienced by the child. Cloaked in the protective skin of the animal suit, or armed with defensive animal features such as deer antlers, the child stares out at the audience, who might connect emotionally, or even find themselves within the depths of the pensive eyes of the child in Yamamoto’s works.
Yamamoto is widely recognized as one of Japan’s leading second-generation contemporary artist.