Velvet is a sensuous material. It invites you to touch and run your hand along the luscious fur-like fibers. It is a rich material in texture as well as in its associations. Velvet is the unlikely surface Arika Someya has chosen as her canvas. She applies bleach by brush onto the surface of red or black velvet. Where the bleach touches, the material fades to a variety of golden whites, yellows and oranges. Her current exhibition at the Kenji Taki Gallery, Tokyo features patterns from domestic interiors - Dutch painted plates and Persian carpets.
Someyas art plays with subjects inspired by the rich associations with velvet, yet her art is also associated with the ordinary and domestic through the bleaching process. It stirs issues of gender. Born in Aichi prefecture, Someya graduated in fine Arts in 1986. After several exhibitors in Nagoya, Someya has become more widely known since winning a Phillip Morris Art Award in 1998. She was included in the 'First Steps: Emerging Artists from Japan exhibition held at the Grey Art Gallery, New York.
Her works have titles such as 'Wall, 'Carpet, 'Room, and 'Curtain They are often hyphenated by the word 'soak or 'decolor, describing the action of creating them. Bleach or motor oil are painted onto a porous surface such as plywood, cotton, paper towels or velvet. The liquid spreads into the surface producing a fuzzy outline. Many of her works including 'Soak/black (Curtain) and 'Wall, from this exhibition are patterned like carpet or wall paper. Repetitive 'fleur de lys shapes stenciled across the panel in black motor oil which soaks into the plywood surface. The results appear neither messy nor haphazard; instaed she has created luxurious and shimmering surfaces.
Two other stunning works in this exhibition are on black velvet painted with bleach. 'Decolor Level and 'Level 1 are large works over several meters in length and have just a hint of Persian rug pattern across their base. These works defy Someyas usual flat pattern-making as they incorporate perspective to give depth to the receding pattern. This use of perspective suggests floor space. It conjures up illusions of a grand room, in a stately home, illuminated by a ray of golden light.
The 'Decolor - Plate series is painted on rich red velvet and features images from Dutch porcelain plates. The type of plates with milk maidens and windmills, in blue glaze on white porcelain, usually seen on mahogany chiffoniers. Someyas art is like the work of a magician Ð conjuring up apparent wealth from ordinary domestic objects. Although seemingly simple in production, it yields an opulence of textures and patterns, as well as, a complexity of ideas
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