Recently, Poulpy was strolling through the alleys of Kichijoji when his gaze was caught by works on display in a gallery. He immediately fell in love with these paintings mainly depicting cats in funny human situations. We met the artist named Mai Ono to present her work to you.
Drawing, Mai has been practicing since childhood. A passion that led her to specialize in design in high school and at university where she also learned the art of illustration. She has the chance to make her passion her job : after her studies, she was employed for nearly two years in a company that mainly produces directories with schools. Since then, she has worked as a graphic designer in a design office.
She tells us to learn a lot about advertising, web design, character design … But the pure artistic fiber always animates him and at the same time, in the private sector, she creates original paintings with cats as the main subject.
Why cats? Mai explains to us having spent most of his childhood surrounded by animals. A relationship of “fifty-fifty” as she put it had settled between her and cats as well as other animals. But before you even know it, she naturally studied cats, tried to please them, to understand them. Then she realized (like many cat owners) that they were manipulating her for their own benefit! For May it was an awareness that had a great impact on his life and awakened her mind, as she claims:
“I guessed that cats are wise as a person, that they can control humans, that they are at the top of the food chain. ”
After this “revelation” she was drawn to the influence cats have on humans. This is where she will begin to take them as models in her paintings. Thanks to cats, she feels that she can achieve anything even if, deep down, she lacks self-confidence.
In addition to highlighting these domestic felines, the warned eye of the viewer will soon notice that May paintings very often refer to Japanese culture. An interest that the artist explains by her fascination with Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples that she likes to visit for learn more about the rituals and mystical culture that surrounds these places. The animist ideology which animates Shintoism particularly attracts it as well as the culture of ghosts which results from it.
At Mai, it comes out a mixture of admiration and fear in the face of uncertainty invisible things. His feelings are evidently found in his creative process and even direct it. Thus, she declares: ” I can exceed my expectations and make things more attractive with my artwork to express those feelings and cats that people so attract. “
When asked which of her works is her favorite, she answers without hesitation: “Yokozuna”. A painting that she relates to the evolution of the city of Tokyo: the megalopolis constantly changing at an incredible rate and with overwhelming power such that the city inspires reliability and pride. But on the other hand, conversely, this rapid and continuous change causes a feeling of indescribable fear and insecurity. You have to constantly learn to stay in balance so as not to sink. And yet, aren’t the Japanese all rushing to Tokyo in the hope of finding stability there?
“Yokozuna” represents the cat (“animal with such abilities that these felines have managed to control many Japanese in recent years”), pushed forward with the elephant which is the strongest land animal. Hence the reminder of the title of the work which also means ” The Strongest “. The cat looks proud and confident, while he also makes people feel awe. Because still being a predator, Man can become a target if he lowers his guard. Mai concludes with these words:
“If you FEEL FEAR AT my painting, I have managed to express my imaginary landscape THROUGH current Tokyo. “
Before leaving us, Mai wanted to send a message to our French-speaking readers :
“Hello everyone, I am delighted to meet you! I would be grateful if you, both those who love cats and those who don’t like them, were interested in my paintings. I have never been to France before. I would love to speak with artists and cat lovers who live in France if I ever get the chance to visit. I’m sure I could discover an unexpected new charm in cats. I am really looking forward to this moment! “
To follow Mai Ono on the networks: her website, twitter, instagram.
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