“Medicine girl” (2019) by Asuka Anastacia Ogawa
AFTER HAVING HER FIRST U.S. solo exhibition at Henry Taylor’s studio in Los Angeles on Feb. 11, 2017, Asuka Anastacia Ogawa is now on the roster at his longtime gallery. Blum & Poe announced its representation of Ogawa on April 1. The gallery expects to present her first solo exhibition later this year in Tokyo.
The Japanese-Brazilian artist makes imaginative and fantastical figurative paintings depicting androgynous children. Rendered in flat planes of color, the scenes are centered around dark brown and black figures with narrow eyes. Her subjects are generally draped in floor-length tunics or nothing at all. Most are fashioned with a helmet of close-cropped hair, rendered like swim caps in tones of taupe, caramel, and chocolate. Others wear head coverings.
Figurative dreamscapes are an apt description of the paintings. Biblical references, ghost images, and newborn babies appear in Ogawa’s works. Animals are featured both prominently and so subtly they might easily be overlooked. For example, a small alligator is draped around the shoulders of her subject in the manner of a stole in “Lilly” (2019). In other works, her figures don rosary beads. “Early Morning” (2019), incorporates the head of a snowman, complete with a carrot for a nose.
In its representation announcement, Blum & Poe sheds light on the artist’s practice and the symbolism in her work: “Ogawa conjures these compositions through an exercise that embraces unmediated impulse and channels the sense of curiosity, wonder and play paramount to childhood… Although Ogawa leaves interpretation of these narratives open to her viewers, [her] symbolically charged imagery … point[s] towards mysticism, mythology, and ritual. Ogawa regards her art practice as a deeply personal conduit to a primal place inside, a spiritual channel to her Japanese and Afro-Brazilian ancestral lineage.”
“Although Ogawa leaves interpretation of these narratives open to her viewers, [her] symbolically charged imagery … point[s] towards mysticism, mythology, and ritual.”
Last June, “Feijão” at Half Gallery, was Ogawa’s first solo show in New York. It sold out before it opened, according to artnet News. At the time, prices for her paintings ranged from $6,000-$10,000. Fellow artists are fans of her work. Collectors include Taylor, Mark Grotjahn, Rashid Johnson, and Vaughn Spann.
In March, Blum & Poe reported its sales at Art Basel Hong Kong included “Walking” (2020), a painting by Ogawa depicting a shepherd-like figure that sold for $48,000.
Ogawa was born in Tokyo in 1988 and at the age of three moved from the city of skyscrapers to rural Brazil, where she grew up in the midst of farm animals and waterfalls. She spent her high school teen years in Stockholm, Sweden, and then attended Central Saint Martins in London, where she earned her BFA (2015). Today, Ogawa lives in New York and Los Angeles. Drawing on her eclectic background, her work reflects a mix of cultures, traditions, experiences, and encounters.
“Where is home?” Ogawa recently said to Rae Niwa of Flaunt, “I think about the people I love when I think of the word ‘home’—having time to explore, and a place to paint, is when I feel most at home.” CT
TOP IMAGE: ASUKA ANASTACIA OGAWA, “Medicine girl,” 2019 (acrylic on canvas, 72 x 96 inches). | © Asuka Anastacia Ogawa, Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo
FIND MORE The practice of Asuka Anastacia Ogawa is featured on Blum & Poe’s new Broadcasts platform (email sign in required)
ASUKA ANASTACIA OGAWA, “Lilly,” 2019 (acrylic on canvas, 72 x 48 inches). | © Asuka Anastacia Ogawa, Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo
ASUKA ANASTACIA OGAWA, “Blue,” 2019 (acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30 inches). | © Asuka Anastacia Ogawa, Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo
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