Kenjiro Hosaka


Miwa Ogasawara paints light. There is both sunlight spilling through trees and hard light that passes through the glass of windows. There is both soft brightness that passes through translucent curtains and fluorescent light. However, of course, even discussing such various types of light is insufficient to describe her work.


It cannot be overlooked. There is always black, painted shadows and darkness crowding in. So the first sentence must be rephrased as follows to be correct: Ogasawara paints light and darkness.


But it is not as simple as that. You have to ask yourself this: Are darkness and light really separate entities? Recall that Haruki Murakami wrote the following in his novel "1Q84". "Where there is light, there must be shadow; where there is shadow there must be light. There is no shadow without light, no light without shadow. "


If we accept what Murakami pointed out, then the first sentence was correct after all (at least I, being born and raised in Japan, find this a very natural opinion). That is to say, painting light means painting darkness and shadow. But we must not be satisfied by this affirmation. Because Ogasawara's paintings are not simply paintings of the relationship between light, objects, and shadow. What do I mean by this?


Jumping ahead to the conclusion, she searches for light in the darkness. Or she tries to dissolve the darkeness into light (or vice versa). Like a moonlit night, dark and light can be sensed at the same time. These paintings aim to depict a time and space where this dichotomy fails. Such are Miwa Ogasawara's paintings.


For example, Gesicht 8. The gender of the person depicted is indistinguishable (We can see that the aim is the failure of dichotomy). We cannot see the person's gaze. The direction of the gaze is shrouded in darkness, but we know that the person is looking at something outside of the picture (although there may not be anything at all, only darkness). However, it is unnatural to see only a face like this in the first place. Even if we do not know where the light is coming from, we know it is coming from somewhere, so it is odd that the shoulders disappear into the darkness.


Or maybe not so. I am odd to think such a thing. The light source does not matter at all. If there is a world where light is dissolved into darkness, it may appear like this. Yes, precisely, just as this person is staring at what cannot be seen, so too should we look at this painting. If you believe that light was created out of darkness, you will be able to see this picture.


Or look at Mit Schatten. There are two people, each with (mit) their shadows, but the world depicted here is not so sure that we can declare it so. Because there are two upright figures. The one in front is dark and the one behind is indistinct. But we cannot suppress the desire to see one of them as the other’s shadow. It does not matter that they have different poses. It is possible, after all, that two different times are painted together in the same space. The figure that has the strongest presence is the one that looks most like a shadow after all...


But how was light born into this world? Some sensible people would say that Logos gave birth to light from the darkness (God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.) But is that really true? Why did Logos give birth to "light"? Why isn't it that in the beginning there was light, and God said "Let there be darkness"? Did not Logos create darkness? This is ultimately a yearning for clarity. (In other words, there is ambiguity that cannot be helped.) It is logic born of human yearning: nothing more than ordering and systematizing.... In reality, in the beginning there was light mixed with darkness, and light was simply separated out by a word....


Now notice here: It must not be put into words. Words flatly divide the darkness and light. Then, isn't it the problem, that our spirits got the some kind of reassurance by producing this dichotomy? Here, we should recall that Lacan pointed out the following about the establishing of dichotomies. According to Lacan, “I could enumerate more oppositions that don't emerge out of the real world but give it its framework, its axes, its structure, that organize it, that bring it about that there is in effect a reality for man, and that he can find his bearings therein.”[1]


Regard light and darkness as a harmonious union. Ogasawara's paintings are, probably for this purpose, made to inquire into the possibility of the creation of something before words. Surely, this is a time and space that we know, regardless of country or culture (or else dreaming of such times and spaces is essentially important for art). Ryuichi Tamura (1923-1998), a poet who represents Japan, wrote in "The Way Home"[2]:


I shouldn't have learned a language

A world without words

If I lived in a world where meaning does not become meaning

How good it would be




The tears that are in your tender eyes

The pain that is falling from the tongue of your silence

If there were no words in our world

I would merely stare at it and leave



"Simply look at it." Look at it sincerely, without putting it into words. Create a painting which allows us to do so. I think this is the spirit that supports the basis of Ogasawara's creation. And of course, they are full of so-called “emotions”, that exist before linguistic labels such as “joy,” “anger,” “pathos,” and “humor.” There you will feel the passing of a enigmatic moment where light and darkness coexist.



[1] Jacques Lacan, The Psychoses, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, edited by

Jacques-Alain Miller, translated by Russell Grigg, Routledge, 1993, p.199.

[2] Ryuichi Tamura, The Four Thousand Days and Nights, Publisher: Tokyo Sogen-sha, Tokyo, 1956, translated by Samuel Grolmes and Tsumura Yumiko, 2000