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Intriguing portrayals of Japanese femininity at Chelsea gallery

"Yorozu no ha" (2014)
"Yorozu no ha" (2014)
Courtesy Joshua Liner Gallery / Mizuma Art Gallery

A collection of alluring works depicting young Japanese girls are currently on display at a Chelsea gallery in a show titled Shinchishirin by Ai Yamaguchi. For her second solo show in New York in 12 years, Yamaguchi focuses on feminine beauty with a strong emphasis on the thick, long, silky, hair of girls and women. Long hair has long been an important asset of beauty in Japanese culture, which Yamaguchi truly embraces by making the girls’ hair a dominant focus by painting them in traditional Japanese calligraphic style.

"Shin to San" (2014) by Ai Yamaguchi
Courtesy Joshua Liner Gallery / Mizuma Art Gallery

The works in this show are mostly acrylic on cotton, non-gesso blanket canvases layered on multiple planes with unique shapes such as the shape of a bird in Shin to San, or a shape resembling a pair of lips in Yorozu no ha.

The title of the show Shinchishirin comes from several different poems from the Heian Period; “shin” means “heart,” “chi” means “earth,” and “rin” means “forest.” All together, Shinchishirin is an expression of how the seeds of one’s heart are planted into the ground and grow into a forest of poetry. Yamaguchi’s art is deeply rooted in traditional Japanese themes. In this show in particular she illustrates these girls’ lives as beautiful and alluring, yet innocent and unbroken.

At The Joshua Liner Gallery, 540 W. 28th St., through Jun. 7th. The gallery is open Tues.—Sat. from 11 a.m.—6 p.m.