The paintings of Japanese artist Maki Ohkojima explore our most precious possession as humans, our imagination. Imagination can be defined as making images that convey through shape, form, and emotion a reality. We are gifted with the ability to associate sounds and symbols and communicate these, think about new ideas and even crack the secrets of the universe. Ohkojima wants to paint what our bodies conceal. Her work utilizes cultural references, such as animal and religious iconography, imaginary gods, and language, together with personal experiences. Ohkojima combines these to create lush, vibrant mixed media works that look like surreal nature journals.
Life and death take equal prevalence in her paintings. For example, in “Mono,” the spirit of a dead tree sprouts out of a doomed landscape. Monkeys howl from its branches, which are covered in an exoskeleton decorated with Egyptian hieroglyphics. In another, “Mother Universe”, two arms embrace a diorama of specimens lit by a ‘halo’ of wild animal spirits. Ohkojima states, “Our imagination is covered by the skin and we’re not able to see its contents, which is a mystery, but we can be make it appear in a painting. It is possible to show parts of us that are invisible.” In a world where the future seems to have lost its enchantment, Ohkojima looks for vitality and its imaginative possibility.