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Exhibition the result of cultural fusion

An exhibition coming to Paphos will showcase the work of Japanese artist Chiaki Kamikawa in a show called We Are Here But You Don’t See Us. Opening on October 25 at Ibrahim’s Kahn, the exhibition presents the artist’s recent drawings and paintings which explore the ideas of invisible existences parallel to our everyday world.

Kamikawa, born in 1976, has been living and working in Paphos since 2007. Kamikawa’s work visualises the imaginative narratives inspired by her environment and experiences. She has always been fascinated by the surreal and supernatural themes such as dreams and fairy tales which stimulate her creative imagination.

Various cultural influences are manifested in her work as Kamikawa was born and raised in Japan and has spent the past 20 years in Europe, including the UK, the Netherlands and Cyprus. For example, the cartoon-style characters that can be seen in her pictures reflect Japanese sub-culture, such as Manga-comics. The use of Japanese letters as a part of the picture also suggests the style of 18th and 19th-century Ukiyo-e prints. These Japanese elements are combined with the images of western lifestyle, landscape and interiors.

Many of her recent works feature ghost-like figures as main characters. The artist explains this as the way to reflect her growing curiosity on Animism ­ the religious belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence. Since Kamikawa has spent so many years in western countries where Animism is not a common practice, her interest in the ancient belief grew more like a counterpart.

In the latest painting series on scenes of Cyprus, the artist created the images of the possible spirit/creatures found in Paphos. Many cats in a monastery, sun-burned tourists, fruit picking farmers and other daily scenes of Paphos are turned into mysterious and surreal scenes with monster-like but somehow charming figures.

During the process of making pictures, Kamikawa was particularly interested in two Japanese artists’ works. One is 19th-century artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi with his Ukiyoe-style prints on monster caricatures. The other is the 20th-century cartoonist Shigeru Mizuki’s writings and drawings on Yokai – the nature spirits.

Kamikawa’s pictures are not intended to describe something scary but to propose an alternative view and a way of understanding the everyday phenomenon. Through this exhibition, the artist hopes to introduce some of the Japanese traditional ideas on nature-worshipping and to create a moment to think about our relationship to the environment.


We Are Here But You Don’t See Us 

Solo exhibition by Japanese artist Chiaki Kamikawa. October 25-November 16. Ibrahim’s Khan, Paphos. Opening night: 7pm. Monday-Friday: 9am-1pm and 5-8pm. Saturday: 9am-1pm. Tel: 99-683630, 99-311225

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