Chihiro Yoshioka: sub rosa

2017.7.7 [fri] - 8.26 [sat] 11:00-19:00 (Saturdays 11:00-17:00) Closed on Sundays and Mondays, national holidays, and 8.11 - 8.15 for summer break

Artcourt Gallery presents a solo exhibition of works by Chihiro Yoshioka.

Born in 1981 in Kyoto Prefecture, Chihiro Yoshioka completed the Master’s Course in Painting at Kyoto City University of Arts in 2006. In 2005, while still in graduate school, she won the Mayor’s Prize at the Kyoten Exhibition (Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art), an award considered a gateway to success for emerging artists. Yoshioka has continued to make steady progress in her career ever since, creating work from her base in Kyoto while participating in such events as the VOCA Exhibition (The Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo, 2009) and Selected Artists in Kyoto Exhibition (The Museum of Kyoto, 2014), where she was awarded the Kyoto Shimbun Prize.

Working with landscapes she has actually seen and retrieved from memory, visualizations of passages from novels, and film scenes projected onto screens, in her painting creation in recent years, Yoshioka has been focusing on such ephemeral yet striking visions that manifest when her own being comes into contact with the outside world through the act of seeing (or reading).

This exhibition is composed of three series of new and recent works, centering on the rose paintings, in which Yoshioka’s constant motif since 2012 has been roses and their surroundings, as well as the series muqarnas (2014 –), with its depictions of autumnal trees and skies viewed from below that came out of her experiences of gazing up at the ceiling decorations of the palaces at Alhambra, and the mimesis pieces (2015 –), which developed from her practice of replicating the religious paintings she encountered during her stay in Italy.

In rose and muqarnas, the artist’s visions, received as they are through her own eyes and body and fermented in the interplay between objective reality and subjective awareness, are translated onto the painted surfaces together with complex shadings of memory and the uncertainty of perception. With mimesis, on the other hand, while Yoshioka passes back and forth between the paintings’ surfaces and structures by making repeated replicas of religious paintings done in tempera or fresco, she is attempting to bring to the fore the latent excesses and deficiencies within the imagery, which has been mediated continually through others and external conditions – by the creator of the original work, for example, and by its frequent restorations and the restrictions imposed by the classical techniques with which it was created.

With Yoshioka, the act of “painting” is not a way of accentuating one’s own subjectivity or sensibility, but something that is carried out based on an approach of “transferring” to reproduce impressions of perceived/remembered things, as much as possible with their original forms and textures, onto the canvas. With a grid applied to the surface as the base support, she carefully confirms the distance between herself and what she is painting while reconstructing the images with improvisational brushstrokes onto foundations treated with chalk ground or metal powder. In this process, the interventions into the motifs are realized as such modest gestures as the “supplementing” or “abbreviating” of uncertain parts of memories, or the “leaving unpainted” of areas that cannot help lack definition due to structural issues. In this way, the ambiguity of the imagery is retained on the painted surface rather than being removed, and a unique atmosphere is created in which ephemerality and a sense of tension exist side by side, like shadows that encompass elements not entirely within one’s perception – essential questions with regard to seeing, for example; or the limitless vastness of space and the ceaseless passage of one moment after another; or the spirituality that resides within the accumulation of time.

Yoshioka frequently paints the same motifs. Incomplete images that stay in her mind supplement each other by being given multifaceted portrayals, and the resulting congenial scenes are projected into the hearts and minds of the viewers.

In this exhibition, we present the wonder of the work of Chihiro Yoshioka by focusing on the differences and commonalities between these series. Within the “not-getting-across” that is itself an essential aspect of the act of “seeing” and therefore also of the act of “painting”, Yoshioka’s work brings together questions relating to painting and intangible, infinite time-space, and explores the possibility of forming a quiet rapport with the world while accepting otherness.

Sub rosa: A Latin phrase meaning “under the rose”. Used as a metaphor for secrecy or confidentiality, it originates in the ancient Roman custom of suspending a rose from the ceiling of a council chamber to indicate a pledge to secrecy among all present, and also in the story from Greek mythology of a rose being given to Harpocrates, the god of silence.

Related events

  • 2017.7.22 [sat] 14:30 - 16:00
    Artist Talk
    Chihiro Yoshioka and Yasuyuki Nakai (Curator, National Museum of Art, Osaka)
  • 2017.7.22 [sat] 16:00 - 17:00

  • *RSVP required for Artist Talk. Please email to or call 06-6354-5444.


Chihiro Yoshioka