Numbers of women artists still rank low in gallery rosters, less than 50 percent, across the world. With the exception of a few like Yayoi Kusama and Yoko Ono, women in the Japanese contemporary art world have yet to earn equal recognition. This is largely due to the historical conception that women were not suited to become professional artists. A new exhibition at Jiro Miura Gallery in Tokyo is bringing awareness to 23 emerging international women artists. “Ephemeral: Territory of Girls”, which opened on July 25th, showcases new works by Jana Brike, Amy Crehore, Virginia Mori, Ania Tomicka, Emi Adachi, Fuco Ueda, Kaori Ogawa, Miki Kato, Kimi Kuruhara, Kozue Kuroki, Satomi Kuwahara, Atsuko Goto, Yuka Sakuma, Minae Takada, Tsubaki Torii, Yumi Nakai, Yuko Nagami, Yuki Nagayoshi, Mao Hamaguchi, Miho Hirano, Shiori Matsumoto, Eri Mizuno, and Yuko Murai.
Taking a varied look at the portrayal of women, their works are sensual, surreal and layered, with some posing them as vessels of their own strength and degradation. Shiori Matsumoto’s portrait of a girl wearing a thorny crown, for instance, takes a symbol of majesty, a crown, and turns it into something painful and demeaning. Her paintings are unique in that most works are not politically driven. Artists such as Jana Brike and Fuco Ueda choose to observe and appreciate the qualities of womanhood. Here, Ueda wraps her women in deer antlers, a gentle creature that is also protective and dangerous when provoked. Mao Hamaguchi’s acrylic paintings explore a young girl’s emotional complexity represented by lace fabric. Although their exhibition is labeled as a “territory”, it displays neither stylistic affinities between the artists nor clear indentifiers of a particular movement. Their works stand apart as individual and eclectic, while considering what the image of a woman means in personal and social contexts.
“Ephemeral: Territory of Girls” is now on view at Jiro Miura Gallery in Japan through August 16th, 2015.