SAN FRANSISCO — Sowed Them to the Earth at Jessica Silverman Gallery is the Japanese artist Kei Imazu’s first solo present in america. The exhibition of 11 work and two sculptures is whimsical however poignant. The gathering is impressed primarily by the artist’s house in Indonesia and the nation’s native folklore in regards to the sacred delivery goddess Hainuwele. The exhibition brings two Asian mythologies right into a dialogue of the Earth’s generative nature, colonialism, and human affect on the setting. As an entire, this nuanced exhibition transcends its native context, addressing eco-feminism on a worldwide scale.
A crash course in Indonesian mythology is useful to understand this present. Historical Indonesian fable has it that root greens, bulbs, and different vegetation within the area resulted from the homicide of the goddess Hainuwele. Her stays have been buried in a pit, however elements of her physique have been later re-buried round varied villages. From these websites sprung life-giving vegetation, together with the Indonesian staple, tuber crops.
This narrative of the goddess’s life-giving however deceased physique unfolds within the exhibition’s centerpiece, the towering portray titled “Blossoming Organs” (all works from 2023). Within the piece, Imazu depicts a skeleton and a mass of hyper-realistic organs from which foliage, tubers, birds, human limbs, and animals emerge in sweeping brush strokes. The goddess’s loss of life, the viewer discerns, permits all varieties of life to flourish. The colourful and detailed work are all rendered and digitally collaged in 3D earlier than being transferred onto canvas. This course of provides the works a extremely reasonable impression, nearly deceiving the attention into believing they’re greater than oil work.
In the meantime, in “Curves of Time,” a parallel is drawn between the Hainuwele legend and an historical Japanese determine, the Jōmon Venus, who was equally revered for her means to yield crops. The toppled determine rests between orange and purple yams.
On this exhibition, historical lore additionally serves as a gateway to look at historical past and its function in seeding considerations of the present second. As an illustration, in “Inexperienced Veins / Falling Goddess,” Imazu launches a critique of colonialism and local weather destruction. The six-by-six-foot portray is a swirling fusion of wealthy vegetation and mammary glands. One could make out a barely sinister vein-like define of a human physique (representing colonialism) and thick, viscous-looking black traces (representing petroleum extraction).
In works reminiscent of “Shadows within the Footsteps of Ancestors” and “Aroma Map,” Imazu delves additional into themes of eco-colonialism. The latter depicts a sky-blue guide that echoes a colonial European voyaging journal noting the discoveries and virtues of Seram Island in Indonesia — together with shells, birds, vegetation, seeds, and organs — all of which spring (as soon as once more) from the life-giving goddess. The Dutch colonized this island within the seventeenth century, primarily for its spices, heralding a Golden Age within the Netherlands. The richness of the land repeatedly made it a goal of invasion.
On this intimate exhibition, Imazu explores themes reminiscent of historical myths, colonialism, local weather destruction, and the human affect on the Earth. Whereas rooted within the native context of Indonesia and Japan, her messages simply transcend the Pacific, inviting her viewers to have interaction in these vital conversations.
Sowed Them to the Earth continues at Jessica Silverman Gallery (621 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, California) by means of September 16. The exhibition was organized by the gallery.