Some time ago, in a gallery in Ginza, Poulpy – who has difficulty resisting a work that catches his eye – bought a strange canvas painted by an anonymous artist who presents himself under the pseudo Arusha. Eager to get to know the author of this painting, rich in traditional Japanese symbols, better, we sought to meet her to find out more about her intellectual approach. She accepted our invitation …

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Arusha (あ る 紗) from her artist name was born and raised Kyoto. She graduated from the University in 2018 and works as an administrative employee in a classic Japanese company. A “salarywoman” in the norm, but not exactly like the others … Because, if her colleagues are perhaps unaware of her, the 23-year-old has gold in her fingers. Working as a “simple” employee, she had never dreamed of becoming an artist. Although she drew from a young age, she confesses to us: “I didn’t trust my art”.

But fortunately, the trigger finally came to him one day while visiting an art gallery. Observing the work of others enabled him to fully realize that painting was the only way to express “his imaginary world” as she likes to call it. From there, she began to believe in her artistic abilities and decided to forge her own artistic path, in the shadow of her civilian life. And from its first attempts, the magic worked, with a very particular style, a search for detail and a rich and sought-after symbolism which quickly became his trademark. We fall for it.

His very first painting was a simple university assignment that helped her establish her artistic identity. Students had to create a work that would pay tribute to a Japanese novel of their choice. Arusha carried out the work “Girl Hell” by Kyusaku Yumeno, a series of sordid stories mixing murders, sexual violence and psychological suffering suffered by young women. EllI wanted to represent a universe specific to Japanese culture and its artefacts that it is so fond of. It was the revelation that would guide his subsequent works. Moreover, this first work is still his favorite today.

In addition to Japanese motifs that she has continued to incorporate into her works, she also incorporates religious elements such as graves or of sotoba, these wooden planks that can be seen in Japanese cemeteries. Most often the kaimyo, this new name given to the dead after the passage in the other world. An approach that has allowed her to discover the universe she wanted to draw. Since then his subsequent paintings have continued to explore this direction bordering on morbid, but always with great sensitivity. Each work seems to carry a specific message, the interpretation of which is at the discretion of each …

“I’m afraid of death, but at the same time it attracts me. “

The first work of Arusha.

So, Arusha paintings are always inspired by life and death, the relationship between these worlds and the universal anguish it generates in humans. The gaze of his subjects testifies to this. It is her favorite theme and a universe that fascinates her. Uone of his last paintings is called precisely “Salvation through death” which did not fail to worry us for a moment … When asked about this fascination for this rather obscure domain, Arusha answers us bluntly:

I’m afraid of death, but at the same time it attracts me. Our world is hard to live with. He understands a lot of sad and painful things. This is why I draw with the wish that at least after death, these disappear and I want death to be peaceful. ” But what can torment the mind of the young artist? Maybe reading de Girl Hell (Kyusaku Yumeno) adapted to the cinema in 1977 will be able to answer our questions.

Probably our favorite work.

In this canvas of a woman disembowelled by Japanese relics, clearly shows her attraction to the subject. Arusha prefers not to give a clear explanation of its meaning, she prefers for the viewer to think about it for themselves and find their own answer. But it nevertheless approves our very personal interpretation. We see the trying entry of Japanese women into the adult world through sexuality, often forced, the violent and brutal abandonment of innocence, and the possible premature loss of a child. We particularly feel the weight of the patriarchal oppression of Japanese traditions on women.

She then draws our attention to the Kokeshi dolls coming out of a woman’s stomach. It is also the origin of the word Kokeshi that inspired this painting. Many ignore it, but the Kokeshi are dolls that represent – at least in the collective imagination – babies killed at birth in poor families in the Tôhoku region who could not afford to feed them. If historical sources are lacking, the myth is alive and well and feeds the imagination of artists.

Arusha likes to use this type of Japanese symbols and myths in her works to discreetly express her feelings, which is become rare in current Japanese art, ultra-modernized and refined. We find the explanation in her childhood that she tells us:

“My grandparents lived in a traditional Japanese house and the kindergarten I attended was on the premises of a temple. In addition, there was a large shrine near the house and I often walked there with my mother. AT maybe because of that, i feel more relaxed when i feel the japanese gods and buddhas. That’s why I draw Japanese things. “

Arusha is also exploring a very particular relationship to sexuality in his works, but we do not dare to expand on the subject during this first meeting.

Regarding her artistic future, Arusha intends to continue to explore more of her personal universe to strive to draw even deeper things from it, without hesitating to shake up Japanese cultural rigidities a little. Because his works very often flirt with transgression, which is not to displease us.

The young artist currently exhibiting his works in Osaka and planning a second exhibition in Tokyo in spring 2021. By then, she hopes to have evolved and matured, even if we find her work and her technique particularly successful for her age. Arusha also confides in us her dream of going abroad, to open up to new conceptual horizons. Finally, she invites all of us to come and admire her work if the opportunity arises.

To conclude, Arusha wanted to send a message to our French-speaking readers who will probably discover her art:

“As I have not yet exhibited works abroad, I am happy that I am offered such an opportunity. I think my paintings have a very strong Japanese character, mostly reflecting this dark and humid atmosphere unique to Japan. Some people may feel uncomfortable, scared or worried. However, I was born and raised in Japan and came to this world based on how I felt. I will be happy if my works mark you whatever emotion they will arouse in you. “

Our thanks to Arusha for this intimate interview. And for our readers keen to follow his work, you can check out his instagram account.

Mr Japanization & S. Barret

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