It’s hard to read the vibrant orange faces in Japanese painter Fuco Ueda's surrealist compositions. Young, manga-esque features mask each character with an expression of aloofness that the artist then confuses with more unsettling visual concepts. These works are part of Ueda’s second solo exhibition entitled Odd Eye at the Thinkspace Gallery in Los Angeles. The show includes over 20 works, including two of her largest paintings to date.
At first glance, Ueda's work comes across as deliberately disturbing. Her characters share the same glazed over red eyes, suggesting, among other things, drug use. In one image, a cat owner sits with her legs crossed, exposing a mass collection of bloody claw marks. But the collection of paintings seem to find a balance between the sinister and the light-hearted. A painting of a girl mindlessly eating a butterfly might follow a tranquil floral scene ridden with lush neon chrysanthemums. The girls appear lonely, almost always shown by themselves or accompanied by wild animals like snakes, deer, and two-headed salamanders. In the works with more than one human subject, the girls don't appear to even acknowledge the other’s presence. Thinkspace Gallery suggests that Ueda’s paintings “convey the lonely meditative feeling of dreams, a world set apart from the existence of others and self-sustained by isolated dread and reverie.”
Ueda works primarily with acrylic paints and powdered mineral pigments. She dilutes her acrylics down with water, giving them the consistency of watercolors. This process gives her color palette a uniquely luminous yet chalky quality. The Gallery says Ueda has a particular attachment to her work. In preparation of their release, the artist sprinkles each canvas with water as an acknowledgment of their completion and departure. Check out some of our favorites from the show below: