The latest solo exhibition of the artist Etsu Egami, “Oriental Mystery” (Academic Director: Jérme Sans (Curator, Former director of Palais de Tokyo, Paris), opened on June 9 at HOW Art Museum, Shanghai. With an international cross-cultural perspective on the changes in Orientalism, Etsu Egami presents 21 paintings and 4 new sculptures. The exhibition is supported by Tang Contemporary Art.
In 1922, British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the golden mask of Tutankhamen, known as the "discovery of the century," and in 1986, the oddly shaped bronze masks of the Sanxingdui mounds were unearthed in Sichuan, making them “alien relics”. Discovered across borders and time, the "masks" symbolize rituals, ceremonies, gateways to other worlds and the mysteries of civilization.
Egami’s solo exhibition “Oriental Mystery”, uses mask symbols as a medium to explore the outside world's imagination and misinterpretation of the Orient. At the same time, the exhibition is also the prelude to her upcoming trilogy of Orientalism.
The myriad forms of Orientalist imagery in Western cultural products have prompted a strong sense of resistance from Etsu Egami. Like the opening chapter of Hōjōki, the stratification of Orientalism is not only a Western phenomenon but also the orientalization of self, relativity and situation within Asia, all of which are part of the artist’s reflections and expressions. "The rest is history," as is often said, and beyond the initial lines will unfold complexity and multiplicity as history is inscribed in the paintings to be exhibited.
As a scholar with a PhD from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, Etsu Egami reflects and expresses through her paintings the formal and aesthetic reflections of Orientalism. She theorizes these reflections and shapes face and figures into various forms of expression and interaction in the form of full color, line, and white space. In addition, she explores visual images such as the Hong Kong martial arts films popular in Japan in the 2000s, with which the artist grew up, as well as the relics of Sanxingdui, the golden mask of Tutankhamun in Egypt, and the "aliens" in pop culture. All of these images, fancies, symbols and signals are interwoven in the artist's paintings. They are not only academic works of cultural research but also experiences and reflections on life in different cultural contexts.
Sculpture Height: 150 cm 2023
Oil on canvas 200 x 134.5 cm 2022-2023
Oil on canvas 200 x 134 cm 2022-2023
Oil on canvas 200 x 131.5 cm 2022-2023
Sanxingdui - Bronze mask with vertical eyes
Oil on canvas 200.5 x 140 cm 2022-2023
Bronze Standing Figure
Oil on canvas 201 x 140 cm 2022-2023
Oil on canvas 58.5 x 78.5 cm 2022-2023
Mask of the lion with Kagurumi
Oil on canvas 58 x 79cm 2022-2023
b. 1994 Tokyo, Japan
Etsu Egami graduated with a B.F.A. from the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) specializing in Oil Painting in 2016. She graduated with an M.F.A. at CAFA under the mentor of artist Liu Xiao Dong and studied at HFG in Germany. She is now in New York dispatched as a talented artist by Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan Government. Etsu Egami currently lives and works between Tokyo and New York.
Growing up in the United States and Europe, and currently living and working in China, Etsu Egami experienced various communication barriers she encountered as a result. She felt that languages can “only be sensed, not explained”, thus becoming more interested in the discipline of language and communication. Etsu’s works comprise various media forms, such as voice, video, and drawings, through which she strives to question human instincts and the authenticity of communication. Curator of Pompidou art center Julie said about her, “I saw all these specificities as a source, not only of misunderstanding but also of creation and richness in people’s relationships. ”. Chinese curator Feng Bo Yi also said “Etsu’s creation is about the concept and the significance of ‘communication’. Through the paintings and videos which embody these mishearing games, as well as the evolution of times, the clashes between civilizations, we acquire a discourse on the barriers in language communications, and subsequently even trigger a crisis.”
Etsu Egami had her solo show in museum, Entrance gallery Vol.1 EGAMI Etsu in Chiba City Museum of Art, Japan (2020), and many countries. She also had many groups shows in Asia, including VOCA2020, Ueno-Royal museum, Japan (2020), Negotiating Space: I Never Thought You Were Like That – Third CAFAM Biennale, CAFA Art Museum, Beijing, China (2016); Neither Here nor There, Yuan Dian Art Museum, Beijing, China (2016). Between 2012 to now, Etsu won numerous awards. Most recently she is nominated as Forbes 30 UNDER 30 in 2020 and a finalist for Asian Art Prize of Sovereign Art Foundation in 2019.