Artist bio

October 28 - November 26, 2017
Opening reception: Saturday, October 28, 6-8pm


EMI OTAGURO untitled 2017, marker pen on paper, 21 x 29.7cm

“A hunter pisses while taking a break from hunting. His urine gradually forms a pool and it increases in size. At some point, he notices an image of himself appearing in it, and gazes down at that figure. All the sounds of those elements that have defined his being are now gone; even the breath of his hound dog, which has always made rhythmic beats during the hunting process, is not audible to the hunter anymore. Now, will he turn and go back to hunting, or go forward and set out for a journey to face his true self…?”

Titled “spot,” the current exhibition by Emi Otaguro consists of a series of works at the core of which sits a story woven by the artist herself with inspiration from Greek mythology's Narcissus. In her story, a hunter finds himself in the pool formed by his own urine, starting to feel unsure as to his bodily existence. Trying to get a confirmation of his being, he gazes into the pool of urine, only to face various haunting images such as those of cats, horses, and ravens, emerging from there; this situation is the point of departure for her works in the show. Here, the urine, in the form of a pool, symbolizes the boundary between the inside and outside of a living body, and the image inside of it that resembles oneself serves as what shakes one’s self perception of their bodily existence. To sweep away that feeling of insecurity, and prompted by a bit of curiosity, the hunter approximates to his other self dwelling in the urine pool. However, what is revealed to him there, is not his own, true self, which he was pursuing, but images deriving from fragments of his memory. They seem rather like a proof of his being in the world.

Throughout her artistic practice, Otaguro has consistently worked under the themes of inexplicable events slipping into everyday life as well as states of human psyche when oscillating between sanity and insanity. In response to each story behind the work, she has chosen a peculiar material such as chewing gum or quail egg shell. Serving as a receptacle for imagination that may bridge the unformed and elusive world unfolding within an individual with the world outside of them, each material acts as a storyteller, a critical agent that enables us to interpret what her images are. Her new works featured in this exhibition present more direct expressions, as a result of employing more restrained methods and materials. “To draw and paint a picture is the act of staining memory,” says the artist; she gives a mark to a piece of memory by cutting out a fleeting moment from the eternally flowing time and then filling it with a black marker. By devoting herself continually to the primitive and physical act of “drawing and painting a picture,” Otaguro confronts uncertainty of bodily existence and ambiguity of self-recognition. That is the way she works, and the new pieces in this exhibition show us her latest development.

Emi Otaguro was born in 1980 in Fukuoka, Japan.
Recently, Otaguro received the grand prize of the Allotment Travel Award 2016 and she presented her work in "THE ECHOl" at Takasaki City Gallery, Gunma, 2016, "project N 55" at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, 2014, "Water pillow of will-o'-the-wisp, curated by KAYOKOYUKI" at Aoyama | Meguro, Tokyo, 2013, "TRICK-DIMENSION, curated by Daisuke Ohba" at tolot: heuristic SHINONOME, Toko, 2013, "YON-SHIKI, curated by O JUN" at youkobo artspace, Tokyo, 2010, "Mr FREEDOM X, curated by Tadasuke Iwanaga" at A+, Tokyo, 2009, WORM HOLE episode3" atmagical, ARTROOM, Tokyo, 2006. And she also received the grand prize of Art Award Tokyo Marunouchi 2008.
Lives and works in Aichi.