About My Painting




Painting means reflecting the inner life, i.e those things that affect a person's existence in the world at the deepest level. 


Painting that simply shows something instead of trying to plumb its depths verbally can have the same effect when it tries to capture moments that can't be expressed in words. That's exactly what working with images means for me. 


I discover such moments in everyday situations, close to where things appear. They already contain everything and it's right there in front of our eyes, if only we could see it: how we live, how we feel, how we think, what we observe, what we perceive, what we hush up, what we destroy, how we fall in love, hate, and eventually die... My paintings start with an attentiveness to the existential aspects of life, especially how they can sometimes reveal themselves in the smallest of details. Painting is a projection room where I can trace such moments and also a field where I can amass them and make them poetic. That's why painting should never be illustrative or overly direct. 


Finding the right image is about being subtly suggestive. For me, painting is the way to reflect experience and reality in something universal, allowing it to become visible in this mirror. 


My images are still and my motifs are largely everyday. There's not any message or story being told. Time, place, and events are undefined. You see a figure in a landscape, in an empty room, children sleeping or playing, or often people in a reflective mood. Shadow figures, like a vague image of human existence. My images are mostly in greys, blacks, and whites. As I layer on the paint, I often add a minimal bit of other color. This creates an atmosphere of the imaginary, like a space filled with receding memories. 


I often work with metaphors of the immaterial and of perspective: shadows, reflected light, mirror images, how light fills a space. In many ways, the architecture in my images creates space for the atmospheric and immaterial. Walls and windows as liminal spaces, visual axes between the internal and external.  


It is the abstract, intangible, invisible moment of the life of the soul that I try to capture in my painting. If I succeed, I can capture it in all its ephemerality, melancholy, and existential force. 


It's about capturing humanity. What is the state of our minds, our souls, and our intellects in these times? That's what I think about – with painting.


Hamburg, 2018


Über meine Malerei




Malerei bedeutet, das innere Leben des Menschen zu reflektieren – das, was seine Existenz und sein in der Welt sein im Innersten betrifft.


Für mich kann gerade Malerei, die ja einfach nur etwas zeigt statt es beispielsweise in Worten auszuloten, das leisten, wenn sie versucht, Momente des Unsagbaren einzufangen. Genau das bedeutet das Arbeiten am Bild.


Ich entdecke solche Momente im Alltag und nah an der Erscheinung der Dinge. Alles liegt bereits darin und steht vor Augen - wenn man es sehen kann: wie wir leben, wie wir uns fühlen, wie wir denken, wie wir beobachten, wie wir wahrnehmen, verschweigen, wie wir zerstören, wie wir uns lieben, hassen und irgendwann sterben...


Meine Malerei geht von der Aufmerksamkeit für das Existenzielle im Leben aus, davon, wie es sich manchmal auch im Kleinsten zeigen kann. Malerei ist für mich ein Projektionsraum, um solche Momente zu erspüren, und auch ein Feld, in dem ich sie verdichten und poetisieren kann. Malerei darf deshalb niemals illustrativ sein oder allzu direkt.


Das richtige Bild, das es zu finden gilt, ist vor allem durch richtige Andeutung stark. Für mich ist Malerei der Weg, um Erfahrung und Realität in etwas Universellem zu spiegeln, es in diesem Spiegel sichtbar werden zu lassen.


Meine Bilder sind still, die Motive meist alltäglich. Es gibt keine Botschaft, keine Geschichte, die erzählt wird; Zeit, Ort und Handlung sind undefiniert: Man sieht eine Figur in der Landschaft, in einem leeren Raum, schlafende oder spielende Kinder, oft sind es in sich gekehrte Menschen. Schattenfiguren, wie eine vage Vorstellung der menschlichen Existenz. Meine Bilder basieren zumeist auf Grau, Schwarz und Weiß. Im vielschichtigen Farbauftrag füge ich oft minimales Kolorit hinzu. So lasse ich eine Atmosphäre des Imaginären entstehen, wie einen Raum verblassender Erinnerung.


Oft arbeite ich mit Metaphern des Immateriellen und des Blicks: Die Verschattung, die Lichtreflexion, die Spiegelung, das Licht im Raum. Vielfach öffnet Architektur in meinen Bildern solche Spielräume fürs Atmosphärische und Immaterielle –Wände und Fenster als Grenz-ziehungen, Blickachsen zwischen Innen und Außen.


Es ist das abstrakte, ungreifbare, unsichtbare Moment des menschlichen Seelenlebens, das ich in meiner Malerei zu erfassen versuche. Gelingt es, kann ich es in aller Beiläufigkeit, Melancholie und existenziellen Kraft zum Vorschein holen.


Es geht mir um Menschlichkeit. Im welchem physischen, seelischen, geistigen Zustand befinden wir uns – heute? Darüber denke ich nach – mit Malerei.


Piece of reality

The world as an indeterminable, uncertain reality. Take a group of people in a forest, in a public place or in the park; a girl on a footbridge; a deserted, desolatelandscape. When I put them into a painting, I merely hint at time, place, action - thus allowing viewers to look more closely and seek their own personal level of reality. Free from subjective concerns and stripped of colour. In my paintings, emotions, ordinary contradictions and human frailties are transformed into gentle, quiet, soft, resonances. The human condition I depict comes from mypersonal observations rather than what is fed to us by the media.



The resonances appear as a blur which abstract themselves from time and can even span past and future within itself : an extended moment, a present lost in reverie. The source of the resonance is unclear to allow a dreamlike, displaced reality. A sound - quiet but present. What is seen becomes blurred again, rendering the images peculiarly indefinite.



I came to the conclusion that colour imparts a powerfully shifting impact on a painting – it can radically change the effect and meaning – and this disturbed me. When we see people, we automatically start to interpret. If I depict people in colour, it is immediately much more of a statement and quickly creates the impression of being overloaded. That is why I have been stripping colour further and further back, or rather, fading it out. 


Subtle combined differences 

Small canvases are more open whilst portraying blurring, intimations, faintness. With big paintings, it is different. Large surfaces require a self-contained world be depicted. It is a challenge to bring drawing and painting together – to get the balance right between the two techniques. During this unending process of working with reduction, nothing is to be focused and no moment robbed of its continuity. So, looking again and again, you will find – or think you find - images you might not have seen at first glance. I invite my viewers not to trust their eyes too quickly.  Take time to see clearly; give space to each look at a painting for a second or third reading of a scene. Behind frivolity lies earnestness, behind lightness there is seriousness. Nothing is static, stable, nothing stays as it seems to be.



What I show in different formats in painting is always a part of the many levels of reality. These levels need each other; idyll and danger, good and evil - their existence is intertwined. Something is amiss if one side is too strong or if one interpretation predominates. So my aim is to captur parallelity of life through in-betweens. 


Miwa Ogasawara