ARTPLAT (“ART PLATFORM TOKYO”) proudly presents a two-person exhibition “Abstract of memory” featuring Sophie Borneck and Honoka Okuyama co-curated by Lee Hyunjun.
We wish for precious and happy memories to last forever. However, sometimes we struggle to forget memories we want to erase. Memory has been a part of human history, evolving through writing, music, and actions, and a great cultural development emerged just over a hundred years ago to express it through abstraction. Today, through various forms and techniques of abstraction that have evolved and diversified, we record, express, and communicate memories to someone, somewhere. Memories exist in various forms, but ultimately, all memories can be seen as abstract fragments that do not exist. In this sense, abstraction is perhaps the most efficient way to record our memories.
Sophie Borneck, born in France, currently resides in New Caledonia. She is carving out her unique artistic territory using acrylic and Indian ink, with the base of her work being mitochondria, the source of life.
In the past, there was a time when she was unable to paint due to overwhelming sorrow after losing her mother. When she finally started painting again after a four-year hiatus, she began using mitochondria as a motif in her work. This resilient organism, passed down from her mother, signifies the foundation of all life, enabling her current existence, and representing the continuation to the next generation.
Furthermore, New Caledonia, where the artist resides, is an island nation in Oceania known for its untouched nature and the coexistence of various cultures, a mixture of Polynesian, Kanak, and French. The recurring beautiful patterns found there also serve as the inspiration and core material for her artwork, symbolizing the origins of life. Using mitochondria, Sophie Borneck depicts our memories, endless life, and love on canvas.
Honaka Okuyama’s artworks draw inspiration from the landscapes of Hokkaido, her hometown, echoing her own emotions. In summer, she must have basked in the dappled sunlight filtering through the birch trees. In autumn, the sound of rustling leaves must have accompanied her steps. In winter, she must have observed from her room the unrelenting snowfall, as it blankets the trees. And in spring, the eagerly awaited fresh greenery must have set her heart aflutter.
If painting is an attempt to transpose three-dimensional space onto a two-dimensional plane, Okuyama seeks to “flatten this process once more to create a different perspective.” Many of her works feature significant white spaces from top to bottom, evoking the image of trees glimpsed through gaps in white curtains. Her painting process is deceptively intricate. It begins by applying light colors randomly onto the canvas while leaving generous white margins. The result is a beautiful abstract painting that reminds us of Helen Frankenthaler’s work using staining technique. Then, she superimposes motifs of trees onto these delicate color fields, which transforms the abstract shapes into a more figurative and tangible creation. “I am painting a piece of fabric with trees,” she remarks.
Using color and white space, she paints fabric on fabric (canvas), expressing her works as an intertwining of “ground and motif.” For her, curtains are never mere dividers between inside and outside, reality and unreality. They encapsulate the tangible reality of walking through the forest, the sensation of losing track of one’s position, the sudden dimming of the surroundings instigating anxiety and fear— they are all endless expanses of the natural world.