Japanese painter Yumiko Kayukawa will debut new work on June 11th at Foley Gallery, New York. Kayukawa grew up in a small town in Hokkaido, Japan. She found a love of animals in her natural surroundings, and they continue to embody important themes in her work. Except for the show’s titular piece “Fire Horse” (Hinoe Uma), don’t expect 11 paintings of horses in this show. Depicted in her contemporary Manga (Japanese comics) inspired style, girls appear in fantasical scenes with a variety of new animal counterparts.
You might be familiar with the Chinese Zodiac calendar and the animals that comprise it. Unknown to most, there is another cycle that goes along with it that includes fire, wood, earth, metal and water. People born during the year of the Fire Horse are notorious for being bad luck. Treat a Fire Horse with respect and it can be one of your most loyal friends, but cross it at your own peril. This brings us back to Kayukawa’s paintings. Beneath a whimsical facade, they are much darker and foreboding than her previous works (featured here and here). Some figures pose as protectors of their animal kin, ready to fight off poachers, while others sit surrounded by dark fields that allude to impending doom. Each reveals Kayukawa’s underlying commentary on today’s politics, environmental issues, and pop culture.
“Year of the Fire Horse” by Yumiko Kayukawa wil exhibit at Foley Gallery from June 11 to July 12, 2014.