Images courtesy of Miyako Yoshigana Gallery, New York
The series of portraits of women floating in quiet darkness, was conceived when I became intrigued by the legacy of the Countess Mitsuko Coudenhove-Kalergi (nee Aoyama, 1874-1941), a pioneering Japanese woman who emigrated and married into a prominent European family in the late 19th Century. Upon visiting the countess’ grave while on AIR Artist-in-Residence Krems in Austria, I was struck by an inexplicable, overwhelmingly emotional unease which inspired me to find compelling female archetypes that could be admired and feared at the same time. The series features portraits of young women and pubescent girls posed in austere Victorian dress covering their feminine curves while others play schoolgirls wearing ubiquitous Japanese uniforms. The subject’s shapes and facial expressions are mostly obscured in strategic shadow. These unconventional portraits are based on historical or culturally specific stereotypes, and all of them have one thing in common: these women and girls posses the power to inspire a sense of awe. I invite these women out of the darkness much as a medium calls forth spirits.
By Mayumi Lake