Etsu Egami: Venus code

9 June - 16 July 2022
Considered a leading figure of the third generation of post-war Japanese artists, Etsu Egami is now enjoying international recognition. Her work is shown in many institutions around the world.
Born in Japan, she studied in China and Europe and is now living in Chiba, Japan. The artist works in a constant movement of itinerancy, an uninterrupted sequence of moments of rootedness, rupture and detachment.
Travelling artist as well as artist-anthropologist, Etsu Egami is a cultural nomad. According to her, each culture, whether inherited at birth or discovered later, represents a world to be investigated, the possibility of adopting a new point of view on things, experimenting with different traditions, conceptions of art, and multiple techniques.
In contrast to an insular mentality and a fixed conception of identity, Etsu Egami strives to constantly broaden her horizons as a woman and as an artist. The various aspects of her work express how she connects with her surroundings, building bridges, gateways, and points of exchange with us.
Exchanging, according to her, implies misunderstanding. But far from being experienced as an inevitability or as something problematic, the experience of misunderstanding, at the very foundation of any attempt at communication and sharing, becomes the driving force of the relationship, the very condition of its flourishing.
Unlike other artists from her country, Etsu Egami renounces stereotypes. There are no explicit references that might inform us about her origin or allow us to assign her to a precise cultural framework; no "Japonism" and even less "Japonerie", as we used to say.
Her painting is affirmative, spontaneous, direct, radiant, and full of energy.
She transforms her medium - oil paint - into a kind of fluid ink that she uses in the manner of oriental calligraphers, alternating horizontal and sinuous bands. Playing with light, transparency and colour, her hasty and untied touch draws forms which, depending on the point of view or the distance, sometimes fall on the side of figuration, sometimes on the side of abstraction.
Tones, rhythms, tempo, contrast: there is something musical here. Isn’t she saying that we have to learn how to "listen with our eyes and see with our ears"?
The human body and the body of the painting, the subject and the manner, the content and the form are becoming one. In other words, what is represented (the touch of colour) is as important as what is featured (the figure). For the artist, painting becomes an act of cognition: it is not simply a matter of seeing, but of seeing how we see.
By omitting the details and singular characteristics that make it possible to identify this or that individual, Etsu Egami concentrates on the fundamental form, silhouette, archetype, and cultural aspects (myths and religions, philosophy). From here ensues her fascination for the figure of Venus.
Goddess of love, seduction and beauty, the name of Venus is also used to designate the first forms of representation of feminine canon and fertility. Thus, the viewer is not simply looking at a body, but at the forces that shaped it and radiate through it.
Faced with each painting, we are invited to closely decipher the language that the artist calls the "Venus Code".