Rieko Fujinami

Beacon, New York
Aki
Mixed media on acrylic mirror, 2011
Collection of the artist

 

The goal of my portrait work is to capture both the visible face of a specific person and the invisible aspects of emotion, the unconscious, and memory.

The painting portrays my friend Aki Narita, a well-known underground artist in Japan. Surprisingly, when she married she chose a traditional Japanese path, having a child, moving into her husband’s family home, and sharing in their lifestyle.

Visiting her, I saw a gulf between the expressions of love and harmony on the surface and the complex layers of ambivalence shifting between love and irritation, calm and impatience, and the struggle to keep the passion and relevance of her art. Her face revealed feelings she couldn’t recognize in herself.

I determined to make a very personal portrait of my friend’s dilemma, which would also serve as a symbol of the struggle of women caught between the social systems of contemporary life and finding our own lives.

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