Chiyuki Sakagami, Positive Transference Part 2: Blue Little Pieces
MEM Gallery, Ebisu, Tokyo; 15 January – 5 February
If the curious minds of ancient peoples could summon innate knowledge about the microbiology of living organisms in the form of shamanic drawings, then they too would have produced the sort of images on display at MEM Gallery by Chiyuki Sakagami. These intricately wrought works read like complex maps divining the coursing flow of life forces through cell-like organic mechanisms, while also bringing to mind the design stylings of Batik fabrics and the various denominations of monetary notes.
At once meditative and scientific in nature, these intimately sized drawings are full of complex patternation built up through series of tiny marks, lines and dots. At a distance they coalesce into semi-recognisable forms, almost zoological or botanic in nature. But not quite enough to lock them down as simply figurative imagery. For they could just as easily veer into meteorological or oceanic tidal mapping in character as well. And this blurred frisson between mapped formal shapes and mapped energetic flows gives the work its strength.
Closer inspection reveals typographic elements at play. What appear to be characters of text are set loose among the circles, arabesques, triangles and dots. But if there is text, it reads like fractured code rather than narrative or semantic meaning. It is elemental componentry laid out in protein strings and DNA strands. But where the images most reflect a textual character is in the shared 2-dimensional quality of a typographic spatiality. For these are decidedly and overtly non-perspectival images. They are dissections, or plans. They are cartographic, or schematic.
You cannot escape a decorative quality either, given the borders of most works are edged with patterns. And the nature of the various repetitive mark-making is itself a highly evocative form of decorative application commonly used in textile design. Decorative characteristics in this instance throw up ideas about junk DNA, the hidden beauty of internal forms and the nature of cyclical patterns in ecological settings.
The sheer amount of time required to construct the imagery, evident as this is through the accrual of hundreds of small marks on the page, lends the works a certain weight and energy. You can almost feel the labour having been imbued in each piece, and this heightens the closer you move to each image and the more obvious the intensity of the effort becomes. The use of ink, in what coils easily be ballpoint pen application, reinforces this further as it implies the immediacy of the artist’s hand upon the page – of the skin pressed against paper, of infinitesimal gestures rendered slowly across the flat surface over many hours.