I first met D when her exhibition was part of Asagaya Street Art festival in 2015. Our gallery was running a Bartkira show, also part of the festival and she came along to check it out.
D is quite a famous young artist, she graduated from the same art school as Shinjiro and now as well as creating art she also hosts a popular Tokyo radio show that has an emphasis on exposing Japanese listeners to foreign concepts and people. She interviewed me for it a while back, I'm not sure if my interview was ever broadcast. You are also likely to see her designs on phone cases and letter writing packs but don't let that take away from the fact she is serious about her art and goes to some length to engage her audience in understanding what she is trying to get across in her works. I like that openness about her.
The gallery is just 5mins from Asagaya station and there are a few interesting shops along the way so maybe make a couple of hours of it.
Below is a text taken from the gallery website outlining the concept of the current show-
The DOOR: Return to self
Subtitle: THE LETTER from the future, past, somewhere
Why did you choose that name? What is D? What is your real name? Where do you REALLY come from? That part of your name [di:] is a bit cumbersome, can I skip that part?
These are questions I have been repeatedly asked since I started working under this name.
It’s not Google-friendly, nor very memorable. Even if they have seen some of my work, most people don’t remember my name. There are only a handful of people who can spell my name correctly. Most parcels arrive with the wrong name on the address labels.
But this is actually exactly within my expectation. It’s perfectly fine.
D[di:], consists of one letter D – not any of the Japanese characters – and a phonetic symbol of it. This originated from one syllable of a nickname my friends used to call me. The nickname didn’t even start with D, rather it was the fourth letter in the name.
So, why did I choose this one specific letter?
“It is said that the Buddha once gave a sermon without saying a word; he merely held up a flower to his listeners. This was the famous “Flower Sermon,” a sermon in the language of patterns, the silent language of flowers. … Perhaps the message of the Flower Sermon had to do with how the living patterns of the flower mirror truths relevant to all forms of life.” – Gyorgy Doczi: The Power Of Limit, Chapter 1: Dinergy in Plants
In other words, Buddha made the gesture of Flower Sermon to suggest that the mandala, the enlightenment and the map of similitudes that charts the universe are contained even in the form of a flower.
The way I create artworks using repetitions of densely layered flowers and plants can be seen as me repeatedly building my own version of mandalas – cellular frameworks are comprised of flowers exhibiting their naturally evolved golden ratio to form symbolic figures, and I’m navigating the composition by feeling the harmony within the entire picture’s evolution.
Akashic records – the idea advocated by Rudolf Steiner, of an enormous cosmic memory where all the consciousness of the universe, from past, present and future are stored – do not have any scientific evidence. Yet although the terminology may vary, the concepts of enlightenment, nirvana, the Middle Way, sense of sharing, Heaven and Hell are ubiquitous in a variety of religions all over the world. This makes me believe that Akashic records do exist, though not physically, and even if only in people’s shared consciousness.
I suspect that the act of creation by artists like me is like weaving my own harmonies, reeling a string of events in from this cosmic memory, sensing its lingering impressions and translating the visions and the melodies of the events into stories. People call it “drawing inspirations” or being “afflatus”.
The reason I call my self D[di:] is, in part, to be an open door to worlds like this. To eliminate my personal identities and turn myself into a mere symbol, a device.
Primarily, what are names? What are letters?
As a Japanese word “Kotodama” (Shinto belief that there are spirits residing in spoken words) suggests, names evoke to us certain identities, gender, nationalities and meanings that bind us up to them.
There are lost languages in every corner of the world, their linguistic systems unrecovered, the letters illegible, the meanings incomprehensible. The forgotten knowledge, history, and communication tool that belonged to now-extinct civilisations.
How long will the clear evidence of our existence, the proof that we are here now, survive? No one knows what will happen in 1,000 or 2,000 years. Even the letters we use now may become unintelligible symbols and shapes scribbled on paper or engraved on monuments to future civilisations, evident from the examples of archeological findings in our time. No matter how sophisticated artificial intelligence will get, if they future civilisation can’t boot the machine the AI operates on, it will be just an useless object. Current technologies are hardly reliable or absolute.
In this exhibition, I am focusing on these lost languages, the “doorways” to different worlds, and the other side of these doors as I imagine.
What will you see when you face these pieces, imagining yourself as an alien landed on the earth for the first time with no background knowledge about current human civilisations?