Text by NAKAI Yasuyuki
(This text was contributed on the occasion of VOCA exhibition which is an annual painting competition at Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo.)
Tezuka Aiko’s artistic expression is not derived from the tradition of painting. Paintings have generally been constructed by applying traces of various kinds of media on a canvas surface, but Tezuka’s creative actions shift our aware- ness to the support underneath the painting media.
As historical background,one might refer to a group of French artists in the 1960s who established a style of art that questioned the nature of painting by reducing it to the physical elements that constitute it, this movement known as “Supports/ Surfaces,” also pursued the expression of painting as such. By eliminating forms into which viewers could project emotion, the “Supports/ Surfaces” artists intended to produce paintings for the sake of painting, but the lack of historical and literary qualities in their work may have been a factor that caused a decline their expressive capacity.
Tezuka used the technique of embroidery on canvas in some of her early work, but rather than showing the embroidered image itself she presented the mass of yarn protruding from the back of the canvas. Ordinarily, paintings show images from the front, but Tezuka focuses on the underlying structure that establishes the painting’s surface.
In the work she is submitting to this exhibition, Tezuka unravels a portion of a patterned fabric, showing the nature of the support after it has been disassembled. In another work, she unravels parts of two pieces of fabric with different patterns and weaves strands of each together to create a new pattern. The resulting textile has a patterned image with a strong quality of anonymity resulting from a process of historical change. Performing the operations of unraveling and reconnecting according to certain rules, she creates art that can be characterized as unintentionally intentional.
Tezuka’s art does not arise from the essential features of painting. It reduces painting to its structural elements, pushing these elements to the level of artistic expression and creating works that raise new questions about the reason for being of painting.