Hana Usui
Artist Statement
I began studying Japanese calligraphy when I was a child and was a student of a well-known master. In 1999 I moved away completely from the character aspect. My abstract drawings are made with white or black oil paint, which I overlay onto ink washes or photographs. I am interested in the relationship between oil drawing and ink painting or photography, between linear conciseness and spaciousness. Since 2014 I have been using my artistic vocabulary mainly to address injustices within the environmental, political and social realms of Japan. I try to give the subject a new dimension by avoiding anything too striking or purely documentary. Thanks to this distancing and instead using mere suggestion and the symbolic in the artistic media, my works achieve a quiet intensity and at the same time remain open to questions. In this way, freed of their historical context, warning and entreaty demonstrate their enduring validity.
I have always been aware of numerous injustices in Japan. Ever since the nuclear disaster in Fukushima and the way the Japanese government acted upon it, and still does, I have in a sense lost hope that my country will be saved. Freedom of the press in Japan is deteriorating, and people are becoming less and less interested in politics. A text by the philosopher Konrad Paul Liessmann provided the title to my 13-part Fukushima series A Human Desert, Made by Humans. This title fits perfectly with a dystopian vision of my beautiful country in which my compatriots don't wake up and fight back. But that probably applies to the whole world ...
Artist Bio
Hana Usui (born 1974, Tokyo) studied art history at Waseda University and calligraphy in Tokyo. Exhibitions (selected): Japan Unlimited, frei_raum Q21 / MuseumsQuartier Wien, Vienna, and Show Me Your Wound, Dom Museum Wien (2018–19); Hans Hartung, Informel and Its Impact, The National Museum in Berlin (2010); Sensai, Residenzgalerie Salzburg (2009); Works on Paper, Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology, Cracow (solo, 2009). Collections (selected): Albertina, Vienna; Dresden State Art Collections; Graphic Collection of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna; Otto Mauer Collection, Vienna; The National Museums in Berlin; Wien Museum, Vienna.