“She leaves her abstractions up to the viewer’s eye and relies solely on the buzzing colors to communicate a narrative.”
Courtesy of the artist.
Ahira Misa: Provocation of Color
One cannot help but be reminded of Kandinsky’s writings on synesthesia or Cezanne’s avant-garde exercises in color theory while gazing at Misa’s canvases. There is a correlation between Misa’s swaths of color and the emotions evoked in their unveiling. Reds are paired with golds, purples, and pinks to illustrate one narrative, blues with browns and violets for another. Though, to use the word “subdued” to describe any of her multi-colored works of art, even those, which are not as brazen as some, would be a grave misnomer. She leaves her abstractions up to the viewer’s eye and relies solely on the buzzing colors to communicate a narrative. Misa explains, concerning the brilliance and vivacity of her color palate: “I want colors to tell what they want to tell on canvas by themselves. I create real stories with them. How far can colors go?” Her pieces are strokes within blotches, blotches within shapes, shapes within hue – and it is that ever-growing relationship of color and shape that establishes her stories.
Our eyes are drawn all over the picture plane grasping at tones and juxtaposing bright colors that speak to everyone. Her oeuvre stands somewhere between the unknown and the defined. In specific works like Parado, she creates a mosaic configuration of hot red and sensuous yellows that dazzle the eye. This work conjures up a rich, warm atmosphere reminiscent of a summery island. The patterns in this work are repeated like a checkerboard with fuzzy edges that fade off into the peripheries. It is a phenomenal work.
In other works like En Cxambro, she grapples with blurring the lines between abstraction and figuration, hinting at recognizable shapes and images. Broad sweeps of color give way to layered streaks of a hard-pressed brown or mauve. Occasionally, her brushwork breaks from its seemingly haphazard movement and hones in on the formation of a pristine – comparatively speaking, to the rest of the canvas – geometric shape. Faint figures seem to dance in this magnificent work. The vivid greens dazzle the eye in the center of the canvas, while filigree border frames the entire piece. This work is her strongest painting to date as it shows that he has mastered several techniques. Specifically, beautifully illustrated gestures that form equilateral triangles, eye-like circles, and ever-so-slightly-skewed rectangles.
I recently had the chance to interview Misa Aihara to find out more about her work.
Rose Hobart: There is a certain rhythmic pattern prevalent in many of your paintings, is there any correlation between the notion of musical composition and the performance of colors in your artwork?
Aihara Misa: Yes, but not completely. Musical composers work with sounds, which are originally noise. Sound alone, does not express a concrete rhythm. I am interested in that kind of notion of music. So, I am not interested in musical works of Romanticism, where a composer intends to make up a certain story with sounds. I want to make a performance with non-representational parts of colors, textures, brushstrokes and so on – every component on canvas.
Rose Hobart: I like the relationship to sound. I also notice that in your abstractions, synesthesia seems to rule supreme. Do you feel that you rely on the cognitive effects and involuntary reactions which specific colors evoke to communicate a narrative?
Aihara Misa: Yes. That’s it.
Rose Hobart: You’ve spent the majority of your life in Japan, is there a Japanese sensibility that informs your work? Do you draw inspiration from colors in
nature? Or from the technological enchantments of metropolitan Tokyo?
Aihara Misa: I think I am very much influenced by Japanese aesthetics. I often draw inspirations from colors in nature. But that is not so important to me. I am a person living in the modern world. I am interested in how an individual in the present-day perceives the world and how they feel.
Rose Hobart: In addition to the communicative nature of colors, do you find that the movement of the artist’s hand is all that is necessary to establish a narrative?
Aihara Misa: The movement of the artist’s hand is very important. The artist’s hand corresponds to non-representational parts of colors and other pictorial elements like brushstrokes to create and establish a narrative. The hand is the tool that configures my concepts. The concept must be embodied with the hand. It could be said that the hand is the artist’s concept.
Aihara Misa is an incredibly accomplished painter whose work is on the cutting edge of painting. Though her canvases seem to have been comprised by an abstract-expressionist’s agenda, on second look it is obvious that the artist’s hand, here, is calculated. It’s hard to develop an extremely lucid explanation, or even a definitive emotion when staring at Misa’s artworks. Which is why they are so compelling. It is within the calculated chaos of her canvases that one finds intrigue, a spark that keeps you looking to discover more.