Chie Fueki

Last fall I was fortunate enough to be able to attend one of the visiting artist lectures put on by the University of Arkansas. Chie Fueki spent over an hour going through her past and present work, and she blew my mind.

She is an artist interested in the subtle differences of surfaces, in shapes that are flat but can open up on you, and in symbols. Her influences are broad and varied, from Byzantine and decorative art movements to Japanese Edo prints. During the lecture, Fueki went through her work chronologically, from past to present. In her paintings of football players she explores ideas of technology and science culminating in a super-state of being-- players of god-like status painted as cosmic warriors. Fueki's paintings of animals and skulls exploit the media she chooses to use. The medium's intrinsic qualities are important and form a basis for the work itself. In these paintings a glass-bead gel is used. She explores the light that is inherent in the material, and she never mixes colors.

In Fueki's series of paintings about her friends, she thinks about a small domestic space as becoming cosmic. The paintings are first painted on paper, then cut, collaged, pasted, painted, and drawn over. For this work she would spend time in a friend's domestic space, sketching and taking photos. The final painting would not be based on one sketch or on one photo. "[The] present moment always looks away. Everyone knows that," said Fueki. Photographs are used as a reference; the paintings are created from all of her sketches and from her feeling of experience of being in that friend's space. Fueki then discussed her paintings about viewpoint, titled "These constellations are our closest stars."  It is a body of work featuring her friend, Elizabeth, going through a sequence of transformations. The paintings form a circle where Elizabeth is looking at herself, gazing at herself but never making eye contact.

She concluded her lecture with a tease of work to come, which seemed to depart significantly from what she had presented-- a large monochromatic waterfall-like structure. I can't wait to read about what she does next and can only hope to see her work in person someday.


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