FROM BEYOND-TO BEYOND ーFor the Exhibition of Masako Ishizuka

You are probably contemplating the black and white large vortex in Masako Ishizuka's painting. How did you feel and what did you think about? If you opened this catalogue expecting to find the meaning behind her work, I'm afraid you won't find it. This text is not an explanation of her work. What came into your mind and what you have perceived are what is important. The experience each of us had is different, so I can only tell you mine. Of course, I would be pleased if my views can be of any help to deepen your thoughts.

The vortex in her painting is formed by a mass of lively black and white lines. However, I was not exactly fascinated by the sensation of line movement itself. Her work seems to manifest a tranquil yet tense image which emerges from the pull between centrifugal force and centripetal force created by the lines, just like a spinning top that looks stationary at a high speed. A strange magnetic field that seemed to be functioning, compelled me to face the work, as if I were being drawn and absorbed into the picture plane. What do you make of this strange vortex?

Ishizuka has given a name to this exhibition: "FROM BEYOND-TO BEYOND". Perhaps you have guessed from this title that the vortex came from somewhere beyond. But where? Pondering this question, I stood before the vortex for quite some time. Then, as my eyes began to follow one line after the next, I began to feel as though I was going through the vicarious experience of the artist creating the work. Then I became aware that I have this deep and dark something inside me as well. I am not aware of this darkness in my everyday life, but it might be something I have unconsciously concealed deep down internally. This darkness could be called the internal nature, existing not only in me but inside everyone.

According to Ishizuka, the time she spends gazing at her work is longer than the time she actually paints. She is probably intent on listening to the darkness in the depth of her mind. As this darkness gradually occupies her and creates a vortex, her hand and brush begins to draw arcs.

We are surrounded in our daily lives by an endless stream of visual information. Because we are too busy consuming this information, we tend to overlook many important things. Let's stop for a moment and follow her steps, and look and listen carefully to our own internal and external selves. Doesn't the world have a different appearance than before? It must look fertile but, in a way, frightening.

Inside the large vortexes of her most recent paintings, you will find clusters of tiny circles resembling infinite bubbles. What does this image, which signifies a new development in her work, represent? Unlike the impression of the vortexes in her former paintings, which draw and absorb me into the picture plane, the bubble-like images appear to be originating from somewhere deep inside the picture plane. If the image of the vortex derived "FROM BEYOND", then the image of bubbles -resembling the creation of the universe or the birth of microscopic lives- might be heading "TO BEYOND". That which came from beyond and that which is heading to beyond. If one thinks about it, this is the true nature of everything existing in the world. I was probably seeing the origin of the world through the filter of Ishizuka's mind.

The world itself is an existence full of mystery. And if science is trying to clarify its mysteries with the force of a logical mind, art leaves the mysteries as they are, and uses the force of sensitivity, allowing artists to express a profound world. What you have perceived from Ishizuka's work might be different from my perception. Nonetheless, art is fascinating because each viewer can weave his/her own meaning. So please treasure what you yourself have discovered from her work.

Shogo Otani, Curator
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo