An Exhibit on Mental Health and Identity
130 Flagg Hall, 1207 S. Fourth Street,
October 15-31, 2017
AHOKAWA Reikin (b.2005)
Reikin Ahokawa is an independent, outsider artist working with digital illustrations. Her works deal with subjects in mental health and individual identity, drawing inspiration from traditional Japanese art motifs in woodblock prints and paintings. Her takes on Japanese aesthetic synthesized with contemporary discourses, which can be seen in her illustrations, presenting a unique world of view.
Ahokawa suffered long from unstable mental and physical health and illusions. She was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and dissociative identity disorder (DID). After three months of hospitalization in one summer, she chose art as a practice to converse with herself in the long fight against mental illness.
This group of works titled “Impotence, Schizophrenia, Self-injury” feature Ahokawa’s self-portraitures depicted in an idiosyncratic manner with vibrant color and meticulous brush strokes. The unearthly arrangement of flowers and insects are reminiscent of Vanitas, the 16th-and 17th-century still-life paintings in Flanders and the Netherlands. Representations of the dismembered bodies also remind of the Buddhist practice of contemplation on repulsiveness. However, these tenuous bodies are not the literal body of flesh and blood. Ahokawa depicted herself as a passive object like a porcelain doll, which served as an agent of violation and catharsis. The graphic quality reminds of Muzan-e, a sub genre in the 19th-century Ukiyo-e woodblock prints that depict violent scenes such as slaying of women and samurai committing harakiri, a way to kill oneself by disembowelment with a sword. Beauty, ephemerality, vanity, fragility, violence, and tragedy in silence are sensed in Ahokawa’s implicit self-injurious portraits of herself. Her imaginary body in the imaginary space serves as an object of her own initial gaze, acting as a vehicle of catharsis.
Through Ahokawa’s lens of unique aesthetics, these illustrations will reveal a mental patient’s isolated, yet intriguing art world.
Curator and Coordinate Director
From Planet M-9029.
A materially and spiritually
Homeless beggar in a global context.
From Guangzhou, China.
Student in History of Art
Concentrating on traditional and contemporary Japanese visual culture.
Need to Talk?
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Treatment Referral Helpline
1-877-726-4727 (M-F, 8pm-8pm, EST)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
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