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week 3 in Tokyo

I wanted to write a small update before my exhibition starts on Saturday. Actually I wanted to write before, but of course, there was so much to do and see that my blog got neglected again.

Tokyo has been amazing so far (writing this on the third week of my stay, second week of the residency). I'm staying in an area that's called Taito-ku, close to the famous Senso-ji temple. It's filled with makers, art supply stores and galleries. It's overwhelming and exhilarating to see the variety of creativity that has filled this area. Luckily, Luis made a map with his favourite shops and restaurants, so we know where to go. I say 'we' because me and Alexandria, who is also a resident here, try to get out of the house and explore a certain area of Tokyo every day, next to working on our projects.

My show start in a few days and I'm happy to say I'm 95% done with all the digital artwork that I wanted to create. I've been creating multiple small series of illustrations, all of them inspired by my stay in Tokyo. Today I want to sent them out for printing, and take the rest of these days before the opening to create some analog work. This is something I haven't done since art school I think (7 years ago...) so I'm treating it like a little experiment. I'm loving the woodframes, called shoji, the Japanese people use for their windows and doors. I ordered a second hand roomdivider with see-through washi, and I've been meaning to paint this next week. The ink I will use will be made to order from a lovely place around the corner called Kakimori.

The second-hand shoji that will be painted, in the gallery space

My digital prints will be displayed in gorgeous framework that Paco made for me. Paco is an architect-turned-furniture maker from Mexico living just outside Tokyo, between rice fields in Saitama. He created another shoji frame for me, made from dark Kamiyo cedar, and seven regular frames, made from light breech. These are by far the prettiest frames I ever owned.

All my illustrations will have some link to Japan. Some of them display details I've noticed on one of my many walks around the area of Taito-ku. Others have a more symbolical meaning. I can't wait to show you the final results. I'm very happy to say I've been creating lots of work that I can include in my portfolio straight away, and most of these will be available for prints later this year as well.

After the exhibition I will stay and help Alexandria to prepare for her exhibition (which opens right after mine, on July 27). Then I will take the Shinkansen to Kyoto, Nara and Osaka to travel around a little bit more, for one week. I'd like to see a little bit more of this beautiful country before I return home. Who knows, I might gain more inspiration there for an exhibition back home in the Netherlands as well! In hindsight, I should've gone for a 6-month residency, instead of three weeks. I really like the work I've produced, but there wasn't much time for research and experimenting. I took maybe 3 days for coming up with sketches and then went straight into producing artwork. If you're thinking about taking a residency, I highly suggest you take at least a month. Especially when it's your first time in that country (like me in Japan) and you want to get to know the area better.

I think this is my final blogpost before my show, but I will definitely write another after the opening. I will include photo's and the final artwork, of course. I'm really looking forward to all your reactions.

With help from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Japan.


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