13 MAY – 11 JUNE 2022

IMAGINATION FOR FLYING ADVENTURE is Rokkaku’s first solo show in the U.K. Its title refers to emotional flights her paintings make possible. Rokkaku’s supple images transcend the conventions of both figuration and abstraction. Across the exhibition, bodies become vehicles for inspiration through careful attention to their capacity for nuanced sensation. Recurring motifs in Rokkaku’s paintings include manga-inspired, cartoon-like girls who play within the liminal spaces between them and their surroundings —their eyes brimming with both coquettishness and curiosity.

IMAGINATION FOR FLYING ADVENTURE suggests an embodied parallel between the presence of the artist and the imagined worlds she depicts. Painting directly onto canvas and other surfaces (such as cardboard) with her hands, Rokkaku depicts fantastical landscapes in which small creatures fall in and out of sight.

Rokkaku’s figures are inspired by the aesthetics of manga culture; though each character maintains their own unique expressions, their large eyes mirroring those of the onlooker . Direct encounters with these figure’s eyes means that they both anticipate and direct the audience’s line of sight. Her paintings are at once a record of momentary inspirations, minute observations of the body, and documentations of the kinaesthetic tension between the artist’s hand and her chosen surfaces.

Locating her figures within the immersive constraints of an open-ended pictorial setting, Rokkaku pulls them from the sweltering confines of abstraction and situates them in a permanent state of flux between interiority as exteriority, fictional gardens and forested utopias. In this manner, Rokkaku makes an implicit commentary on the compositional logic of canonical painting, which has traditionally preferred to entrap figures within the confines of static, mathematical dimensions. Transforming painting into an active engagement with ongoing discovery, Rokkaku demonstrates what can arise when the figures in a painting suddenly come alive, exploding the spaces they occupy with sudden bursts of anxious life.

© Text Jeffrey Grunthaner



Ayako Rokkaku (b. 1982 in Chiba, Japan) lives and works between Berlin, Porto, and Tokyo. Her artistic process involves an instinctive and performative approach, as she uses her bare hands to apply acrylic paint, translating the motion of her body onto the canvas. True to her distinctive technique, she moulds figures with the tips of her fingers, whether on canvas, through glass, or in bronze.

Rokkaku’s visual language seamlessly shifts between elusive abstract formations and figurative elements, drawing inspiration from the kawaii culture (Japanese for cute) and capturing the boundless imagination of a child. Rokkaku is known for he...
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