Shino no me Exhibition – Saki and Bitches

You may remember a little while back I did an interview with Saki and Bitches. This was a great moment for me as she is an artist I really admire, and for her to agree to do an interview via email was a really exciting moment for me. So imagine my excitement, when she messaged me about her current exhibition and invited me to the preview day. So with great excitement, I toddled off to London to see this work displayed at the Sway Gallery and meet the lady herself.

The photos in this article have been taken by me, to try and show you the beauty of Saki’s work.

l had never heard of the Sway Gallery before, and I was so surprised to find it was a place dedicated to Japanese artwork, which was the perfect setting for this intimate display. The gallery is bright and while a small space, allows you to see the art on display in a very personal way.

Walking into the gallery you are met with the stunning “Shino no me” painting which is the display image of this article. A geisha lay in lotus flowers, baring her shoulders, with black and red butterflies flitting around her in the moonlight. The background behind the moon has been created using gold leaf which gives the view the impression of a warm evening, where the moonlight glints on everything. Initially the painting feels warm and serene, but the more you look, there is an undertone of uncomfort in the expression of the geisha’s face, almost a sadness as she is surrounded by naturally beautiful things, yet her own beauty has confined her to a life of patriarchal servitude. The symbolism of both the butterfly and the lotus flower is of rebirth and transformation, also that of fleeting beauty due to the short lived life of them, and act as a reminder that life is short. Perhaps this is the underlying sadness that shows on the geisha’s face, the spiritual understanding that life is short and her potential is hampered by the profession that she has been thrown into.

The photo of this picture simple does not do it justice as it has been created on an A1 canvas and the sheer size of it adds to the overall feeling of the painting.

As you move into the main area of the gallery the walls were adorned with past and more recent work by Saki and she was stood in the middle of the room, and gave me the most warmest of welcomes. Her passion for meeting people and talking to them about her work is inspiring, and she is eternally grateful to everyone who turns up and shows her support. While she was trying to talk to everyone, I was overwhelmed about how positive her reaction was to my last article about her. She is one of the most charismatic people, which added to the experience of viewing her art.

I would really love to tell you about every piece on display, but this article would end up like a book, but there is a general theme to Saki’s display, with studies of geisha’s on two of the walls.

I really love the pencil and gold studies in this set of photos, leaning on Kintsugi, which usually is a way of fixing pottery with gold. This embraces a cultural reference of Japan that nothing is perfect, but the flaws of something can make it stronger and more beautiful. The way in which Saki has created the images of the geisha’s with the kintsugi like gold fractures, shows a strength of character in each of the girls that she has created. It also brings a sense of unity within these works as the girls all have a commonality in look and experience, but they have all come through those experiences and become a transformed version of themselves.

In the middle of the display were two painted artists study hands, which were stunning. Roughly the size of a human hand, it is amazing to see the amount of detail that has been achieved on them. These have a leaning towards a more christian root, harking on the the virgin Mary but in a more sexualised and feminine form. The skeletal child perhaps representing the life given to save humanity (if you so wish to believe). On the palm of the hand a crying donkey – perhaps the beast that carried Mary into Bethlehem while heavily pregnant so she could give birth in a stable… or maybe it is simply a child’s toy. The other hand showing potentially the holy mother smoking and crying with a broken heart – maybe the virgin mother needed a life of her own too.

I really appreciate the juxtaposition of culture and customs which Saki interweaves in her work. There is a certain sense of humour with tongue in cheek symbols potential opposing the culture or belief that the view is presented with.

I had originally intended to get this article out while the exhibition was still on, and urge you all to go to it if you were in the area, but sadly life gets in the way sometimes, so this exhibition has now ended, but I would recommend find Saki on Instagram and following her for up and coming events.

Instagram – @s_a_k_i_t_o_m_i

Website – http://www.sakiandb.com

What do you think of Saki’s work? Why not tell me in the comments? Like this post? Why not share it?

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