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Groping the way through the darkness: Maiko KITAGAWA
Written by You GOSHIKI   
Published: October 28 2008

"Dance of sprout" (2008), 31×23.5cm, ballpoint on paper, copyright © 2008 GALERIE TAIMEI

"I have a story to tell you" (2008), 136×80cm Darmatograf on paper panel, copyright © 2008 GALERIE TAIMEI

     Maiko Kitagawa, who is only twenty-five years old, has already created an enormous number of artworks on the theme of fables from the middle-ages, drawn in ballpoint, and now she is immediately associated with this kind of artwork. This is because of her lifestyle, which is dedicated to drawing all day long, free from all other commitments.

     However, Kitagawa has started to use another tool apart from the ballpoint - oil dermatograph.*1 This change occurred when she started as a professional artist. Her lovable pictures turned into portrayals of a heavy black world and the canvas size became a few-times larger.

     What made her select dermatograph? She says that the ballpoint has limitations in terms of artwork size.*2 She majored in oil painting at university, however, so why did she select dermatograph instead of oil paints?

     She often chooses "darkness" as her theme. In her imaginary world inspired by western-fables that she read constantly in her childhood, the darkness is full of half-human, half-animal creatures, fairies and animals.*3 With black dots using an ultra-fine 0.5mm ballpoint,*4 extraordinary effort and time is necessary to fill up the whole paper, which must have resulted in a limitation in the size of the work that could be produced. In fact, her ballpoint artwork [fig. 1] has an airy and bright atmosphere because of the inevitable gaps or spaces between the dots she drew to convey the darkness.

"What will you dream tonight?" (2007), 130×91cm Darmatograf on paper panel, copyright © 2007 GALERIE TAIMEI

"Asleep or Awake" (2008), 150×80cm Darmatograf on paper panel, copyright © 2008 GALERIE TAIMEI

     On the other hand, in her dermatograph artwork [fig.2], the darkness took on a thickly painted, jet-black form without airiness. Dermatograph includes wax in its composition and thus the texture is so soft and adhesive that we can even draw on human skin with it. Her darkness increases opaqueness to bring a suffocatingly strong and firm texture. She is said to remove the color by "dragging" with an eraser after painting black everywhere.*5 With a ballpoint pen, she used to blot out light (the white paper). Now she digs out light (the white canvas) with a Dermatograph. This switchover seems to have changed her approach; previously she filled out her imaginative world through dread of the darkness where something might exist, but now she digs up something which is already there and fills the world up.

     In her first dermatograph artwork, "What will you dream tonight?" (2007) [fig. 3], the contrast of black and white is still soft and the black is rather transparent. We can feel the same airiness as in the ballpoint works. In her latest artwork, "Asleep or Awake" (2008) [fig. 4], the background black becomes jet-black, from which creatures are emerging. She said, "Dermatograph gave me the chance to expand what I can do." *6 She seems to be succeeding in fusing the characteristics of dermatograph and her dark world.

     I now anticipate she will use dermatograph to recreate an attractive fable world, full of dynamic joyful creatures that she used to draw with ballpoint. I expect her to produce a much more powerful world when she fuses the benefits of both techniques. (Translated by Chisato Kushida)

trademark by Mitsubishi Pencil
From interview with Kitagawa on August 19, 2008
From interview with Kitagawa on August 19, 2008
Mitsubishi Pencil ballpoint pen, uni, ultra-fine 0.5mm
From interview with Kitagawa on August 19, 2008
From interview with Kitagawa on August 19, 2008
Last Updated on July 06 2010

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