Tôku te chikai mono
Things That Are Close, However Distant / Chose qui sont proches, bien qu'éloignées

Tami Ichino 'Untitled' 2008, acrylic on canvas, 130 x 180 cm

Exhibition image
Version française, cliquez-ici

The title of this exhibition comes from a short paragraph in a text by Sei Shonagon entitled The Pillow Book. It is a phrase which encapsulates the secrets of the Orient: an extreme condensation of thought that imparts immediate beauty while skirting close to banality and nonsense. Furthermore, while this phrase suggests a list of ‘things’ that can never be exhausted, even more so it speaks of a sensation that plays with conceptions of distance: a distance with which no accomodation is possible. It’s not a disquieting sense of unease or a reference to the uncanny, rather it speaks of an imaginary place which is both intimate and untouchable: it is a form of sentiment.

Thus Tami Ichino’s work is to be found in a game of multiple viewpoints, appearances and disappearances. Whether in her painting, drawing, installations or works in other media, one recognises a style, a universe that is not seen as an abstraction, neither formal nor conceptual, but is seen through the prism of a particular sensibility. These images arrive without mediation, detached through the passage of time, and one gets the sensation of a fleeting impression that can be lost in an instant: something that appears, alone, detached from its context; language is not the master, it is secondary to the image and its internal logic.

The paintings of Tami Ichino are at the cusp of revelation. After a series of paintings with black backgrounds, Ichino is now pursuing a path that reflects on the three primary colours. At present the backgrounds of her canvases are painted with the three colours cyan, yellow and magenta. In theory, when these colours are mixed in equal proportions they create black, thus continuing the line of thinking behind the earlier black grounds but as a form of deconstruction. The question of the ground in Ichino’s paintings is of primary importance, where the decomposition of black within the primary colours is used to form mist or clouds, it insinuates a sense of space, without usually indicating depth, or the perspectival lines and markers of distance. It is a play with the materials of painting and that which is paint. It is here that the object, cloud, or mist takes on the role of something amorphous, atmospheric, sailing in the sky, both the generator and obscurer of images.

The object is literally born under our eyes, taking shape from the mist, acquiring a weight and existence as it emanates from the background that is the source material with which Tami Ichino works. It comes from an highly attentive observation of these things that are close, however distant, whether it is the moon, or children on a swing, plankton, or revolving poles arising from the sea in colours that melt into the hazy sky.

This approach to simple quotidian objects is equally found in Ichino’s sculptures and installations. Thus the black shapes of Tangram, a Chinese game of logic and construction in two dimensions, meets a composition of Japanese origami paper with coloured motifs in the interstices of the form in which the game is placed. It is a meeting between the second and third dimensions, and knowingly plays with the history of minimalist sculpture. It is a way to put the world in order, where the openings give appearance to that which cannot be hidden, yet escapes us always. Tami Ichino does not forcibly describe or deconstruct, her work gently guides us to the point where the tragedy of existence gets close to the sublime.

Thomas Maisonnasse (translation)

Born 1978, Fukuoka, Japan, lives and works in Geneva. Tami Ichino is also currently exhibiting in Post Tenebras Luxe at the Musée Rath, Geneva (26 August -27 September 2009).

Past exhibitions include: Unter 30 IV – Jeune Art Suisse, Kunsthaus Lagenthal, CH (2009); Swiss Art Awards, Basel (2008); The Geopolitics of Animation, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, Seville: travelled to MARCO, Vigo, Spain (2007-08); Growing Wild, Andreiana Mihail Gallery, Bucharest: travelled to Kontainer Gallery, Los Angeles (2007-08); Swiss Art Awards, Basel (2007); Version Animé, Centre pour l’image contemporain, BAC, Geneva (2006); Concours des bourses Berthoud, Lissignol, Chevalier, Galland 2007,Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva (2006).