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mirocomachiko Exhibition: “Umi-matou”

  • DATES : Tue. April 5 – Mon. May 23, 2022
  • HOURS : 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Closed Sundays, holidays and Fri. April 29 through Thu. May 5. Admission free.

  • * To accommodate the Talk Event scheduled for Thu. May 12, the gallery will close that day at 6:00 p.m.

    * We are currently implementing a number of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Upon entry to the gallery, all visitors are requested to submit to a temperature check, sanitize their hands, wear a face mask, and maintain a social distance of 2 meters. Persons with any of the following symptoms are requested to refrain from visiting the gallery: fever (above 37.5℃), cough, sore throat, general fatigue, etc. Admission may be limited to prevent crowding inside the gallery.

Since her debut as a picture book artist in 2012 with Ookami ga tobu hi (The Day the Wolf Flies], mirocomachiko has received numerous awards both in Japan and abroad. As a painter, meanwhile, she has garnered high acclaim for her works depicting, with tremendous vitality, the inner essence of animal and plant life, drawn with dynamic strokes that seem to extend beyond the frame of her canvases. The dialogues her works engender are manifested in mirocomachiko’s highly diverse activities. Today, she continues to attract great attention for her magazine and book illustrations, her corporate ads, her art direction, her installations, exemplified by those shown at the Yamagata Biennale in 2016 and 2018, and more.

In 2019, mirocomachiko relocated from Tokyo to Amami Oshima. Inspired by her new life on this subtropical island of unspoiled nature, she began incorporating part of the local nature into her works by dyeing her canvases using traditional natural plant dyes passed down locally through the years, complemented by the local water. Realizing the power and creativity born during her production process, she incorporates them not only into her dyeing technique, but into her paintings she also incorporates the time and environment through to the completion of her works, as well as the clothing and accessories she is wearing. The works produced in this manner seem to question human life itself, as one part of the natural environment.

For her new exhibition, mirocomachiko will be showing new works as well as installations of her creative process, from her materials through to completion of her works. Also on view will be a video showing mirocomachiko in the midst of her creative work amid Amami Oshima’s forests. A live painting demonstration making three-dimensional use of the gallery space, improvised together with a musician, is also planned. Visitors are sure to enjoy observing where mirocomachiko’s latest endeavor will take her.


mirocomachiko is a painter and picture book artist born in Osaka Prefecture in 1981. Her vivid depictions of real-life creatures have been exhibited both in Japan and abroad. She has released numerous books and received many prizes. At the Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), her Ore to kiiro (Yellow and I: WAVE Publishers) received a Golden Apple award (2015), and her Kemono no nioi ga shite kita zo (Beasts Smelling: Iwasaki Shoten) won a Plaque award (2017). In 2018 she received the Iwaya Sazanami Literary Award. mirocomachiko also creates illustrations for books, CD jackets, posters, etc. Her “Creatures are My Mirror” exhibition is currently on tour at art museums around Japan.

Message from the Artist

One day I realized that, to me, creating pictures is like a talisman or good-luck charm. It’s only when I’m drawing or painting that I feel wholly secure and courageous and can let myself rush ahead unfettered. Especially when I do a live painting performance accompanied by musicians, I feel a muted yet tremendously powerful energy well up from deep inside me.

I’ve sensed this internal power not only in my completed paintings themselves, but also in the clothes I’ve wore during my live demonstration, in the paper or plastic that served as my canvas, in the cloth spread out underneath – in everything that was there with me, even the droplets of paint and water that flew through the air. I also received tremendous power by incorporating these things into my paintings.

It was imbued with that power that I relocated to an island in the south. So strong was the light, everything before me turned white, and I could no longer distinguish the borders between plants and the beach and the ocean waters. I began to feel like I could see to the deepest corners of the forest, with its deep shades of color. Then I encountered dyeing, something that has existed on the island since time immemorial. In using the local plants and water to dye my cloth canvases or my paintings themselves, I’ve been able to inject in my works the colors and air that I sense on the island.

Gradually I also came to wear the cloths and clothes that served as my paintings. What I wear directly loses its momentum, transforms itself lithely, and the traces of what no longer exists in the finished painting are reflected.

The cloth that accompanied my painting act and dismantled clothes, I dye and spread on my canvases, creating collages with pieces of torn paper and plastic. The cloth I lay down when I paint and my clothes, don the time and air of that moment. And they become a painting again.

“Umi-matou” is a portmanteau derived from “umi” – the sea, the root source from which I give “birth” to my creatures – and “matou,” meaning to wear as clothing. In “umi-matou” are the expressive artists who blend together wherever they are led.

In the world I create exist intertwining maelstroms of “umi-matou.” In this exhibition, I want to show a part of my live paintings, a video of how I create in the forest on the island, the clothes I made and the dyeing process, the newly born materials and my finished paintings, etc.


Photography: Yayoi Arimoto (photographer)
Dyeing: Yukihito Kanai (Kanai Kougei)
Clothing & Cloths: Chikako Owaki (WONDER FULL LIFE)
Sound: Daiho Soga (musician, chief producer of Circo de Sastre)
Video: Ryuta Mitsui (Ebisu Seisakushitsu)

Creation Gallery G8

Ren Takanohashi (noie.cc), Chikako Owaki (WONDER FULL LIFE), Yukihito Kanai (Kanai Kougei), Ebisu Seisakushitsu