We have recently had the opportunity to introduce the art of some remarkable painters currently working in Japan, thanks to a recent hashtag on Twitter which contributed to a sudden increase in the visibility of artists online. From the anthropomorphic animals of Tobihachi to the bijinga-like maidens of Nadesico Rin, and let's not forget the kimono-clad beauties of Kato Miki whose art adorns our top page, many talented painters are participating in this trend.

We also introduced the remarkably photorealistic portraits of women by Yasutomo Oka. In comparison with Oka, the oil paintings of Kei Mieno may appear at first glance to be of a similar genre since they seem to depict human subjects with such a level of detail that they create an impression of "reality" in the viewer. However, as Mieno was quick to point out in our phone interview, he wishes to disassociate himself with the genres of photo- and hyper-realism. Although he respects the work of photographers, he considers that the value of painting should not lie in its ability to mimic the mechanical process of photography. Mieno wants to valorize the subjectivity of the process of "seeing". Just as our pupils automatically dilate when we are excited or interested in the subject we are viewing, the apparatus of our senses is almost immediately subjective, and this process happens before we attempt to convey what we see into language.

Mieno's recent artistic statement provides further clarification:

What emotions am I feeling now, how strong are they, and can they be conveyed in words? The meaning of the words you use is never exactly the same as the meaning they have within someone else's mind. When turned into words, feelings and impressions end up being translated and transformed into something different. Such reflections are inevitable when you think about something which you truly want to convey.

What I try to draw is the appearance of things exactly the way my eyes see them. There is a difference between the image captured by your eyes and then sent to your brain and the same image captured by your mind. Your emotions and perceptions alter the image’s colors and shapes. By drawing the colors, shapes and light as they are within me, I hope to convey all that cannot be conveyed by language.

This statement makes further sense considering the title of the astonishing painting below: "As Is, Before Turning Into Words"「言葉にする前のそのまま」

Over the span of a year and a half, Mieno brought this work to life in painstaking detail, rendering the flowing and rippling of the water and the play of the light and shadows as they interact with the form of the girl lying in the shallow river.

On Twitter, Mieno posted one of his earliest works from 15 years ago, side by side with this painting, in order to highlight the progress he has made as an artist:

To showcase the variety of moods and feelings in Mieno's work, let's take take a closer look at two paintings with a decidedly uplifting mood. Separate panels highlight the detail of his craft:

Two paintings with strikingly different moods featuring more subtle expressions

If you're in the Kanto area and would like to appreciate Kei Mieno's art for yourself, he will be participating in a group exhibit from April 18th to May 6th at the Hoki Museum in Chiba Prefecture, situated just about an hour away by train from Tokyo. If you're planning on going, please note that the exhibit will be in the Small Gallery 4 and will be open from 10 am to 5:30 pm (entrance to the museum required by 5 pm). Directions to the museum in English are here.

If you can't come to the exhibit, please follow him on Twitter and Instagram to see more of his remarkable work.

By - Ben K.