Asuka Anastacia Ogawa is a figurative painter whose arresting compositions of androgynous children and mythical scenes conjure both playful and troubling narratives. Dark-skinned, undulating bodies are often presented against flat fields of pastel colour in a pseudo-naïve manner, adorned in ritualistic dress or accompanied by animals that evoke a sense of child-like wonder.Read More
Paintings such as Tomorrow (2020) exemplify Ogawa's style. On the canvas, the artist lays out a scene in which three figures carrying embellished hand-mirrors appear beneath a yellow and white striated sky. Two figures are nude, while the third is clothed and muzzled, a thin rope tying his wrist to a tree.
In another painting executed in Ogawa's typical aesthetic Cramps (2019), a girl-like figure is curled around a stool, her long braided hair falling to the floor. Above her floats an infant who reaches out with laden arms as if to offer comfort. A larger figure looms above these two, obscured by the edge of the canvas. In both Tomorrow and Cramps the figures stare out of the picture, creating an inscrutable tension that the viewer must decode.
Asuka Anastacia Ogawa herself welcomes fluidity and free association into her works. She composes her paintings with a sense of unrestrained play and intuition, blending folkloric imagery with imaginative impulses to creates chimerical images that escape definition. Noting the influence of matrilineal storytelling in her work, Ogawa creates symbolically loaded canvases that operate as mnemonic realms in which to explore her Japanese and Afro-Brazilian heritage.
Asuka Anastacia Ogawa was born in Tokyo in 1988 and moved to rural Brazil when she was three years old. She spent her formative years amongst the subtropics and farmlands of Petrópolis before migrating to Stockholm. Later, she moved London to complete her BFA at Central Saint Martins. She is currently based between New York and Los Angeles.
Reflecting on her migratory experience, Ogawa's outsider status is a point of reference in her paintings. In Sand (2020), a couple with a swaddled baby stand in a tall, grassy field under a pink sky; beside them, a deer-like creature carries a spread of eggs, corn, milk, and bread on its back, reminiscent of the pastoral scenes of the artist's early childhood.
Works by Asuka Anastacia Ogawa such as Sand often draw spiritual, mystical, and mythological comparisons. Yet these works also serve as deeply personal invocations of an idea of home, and indicate an interest in, and identification with, knowledge systems formed in diaspora.
Amy Weng | Ocula | 2020