Haunting Acrylic and Pigment Paintings Depict a Lonely World of Dreams

The Japanese painter finds a balance between the serene and the sinister in her surreal portrait.

by Nathaniel Ainley
14 December 2016, 2:55pm

Odd Eye, 2016, Acrylic and shell white on canvas, Framed (dimensions are of artwork only) 23.75" × 31.75", 60 × 81 cm.

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.

[甘い夢] Sweet Dreams, 2016, Acrylic and shell white on canvas, Framed (dimensions are of artwork only), 11" × 31.5", 28 × 80 cm.

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.”

[おそろい] Twinsies, 2016, Acrylic and shell white on canvas,Framed (dimensions are of artwork only), 8.5" × 13.75", 22 × 35 cm.

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:

[供物Ⅰ] Sacrifice Ⅰ, 2016, Acrylic and shell white on canvas, Framed (dimensions are of artwork only), 8.5" × 13.75", 22 × 35 cm.

Promises of the Dawn「夜明けの約束」, 2014, Acrylic on canvas wrapped panel, Thinkspace Gallery, 13" × 20.75", 33 × 53 cm.

[幽明の境にて] Boundary of This World and the Other World, 2016, Acrylic and shell white on canvas, Framed (dimensions are of artwork only),13" × 21", 33 × 53 cm.

To learn more about the show, head over to the Thinkspace Gallery’s website. Be sure to check out more work by Japanese painter Fuco Ueda on her website.


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Los Angeles
Thinkspace Gallery
fuco ueda
odd eye