Blum & Poe is pleased to present pedra, Los Angeles and New York-based artist Asuka Anastacia Ogawa’s fourth solo presentation with the gallery. This exhibition finds Ogawa diving further into her ongoing investigations of the spirituality that pulses though the natural world, the artist’s studies in ikebana, and the foremost religions in Japan. In the works presented here, Ogawa deploys her signature, childlike figures, depicting them in scenes of quiet meditation or rituals centered around natural talismans. Drawing on her knowledge of polytheist and animist practices in Japan and Brazil—where Ogawa spent her formative years—the artist paints a hyperbolized magical world filled with spiritual guides and plants with supernatural powers. This altered reality heightens and underscores the cultural overlaps in the artist’s experience, calling attention to the hyper-globalized state of the world and Ogawa’s encounters with reconciling multiple sociological influences.
Ogawa’s smaller paintings set the tone for this exhibition, emphasizing the significant attention paid to earthly forms: a red flower cranes in front of an olive-toned background. In her larger compositions, the artist’s characters have made potions or incenses that they apply to themselves and others as part of traditional Brazilian or Japanese customs. By ingesting botanicals or using them on their bodies, the players in Ogawa’s narrative oeuvre begin to merge with the natural world.
The artist’s depiction of practices involving organic totems foregrounds communion between humans and the earth—a central theme of this exhibition. For Ogawa, some of these rituals are personally witnessed accounts and some are imagined extensions of the cultural phenomena that she encountered living in Japan and Brazil. As the child of a Brazilian mother growing up in Japan, Ogawa recalls that her mother would often pray to angels. While only two percent of the Japanese populous identifies as Christian, the artist notes taking comfort in seeing her mother keep this practice. In mochi (2023) a figure shrouded in pink raises an offering of the Japanese rice cake mochi to the heavens.
Further threading the needle between religious practices in Brazil and traditions in Japan, open (2023) depicts a shaman and another figure flanked by flowers as they pray against a deep amethyst backdrop. In Japanese worship, it is commonplace to make offerings of flowers or food to the local shrine or the place of prayer in the home. Ogawa paints these floral offerings to nature, known as kuge, throughout the exhibition as her own form of reflective meditation and as a means of archiving this devotional practice.
Hinted at through backdrops derived from a dark and shadowy color palette, this new series offers weighty reflections on a personal period of change and growth for the artist. This transition, Ogawa notes, was catalyzed by her own encounters with these depicted rituals and traditions, which offered a deeper understanding of human nature and her own spatial roots.
Asuka Anastacia Ogawa (b. 1988, Tokyo, Japan) spent much of her childhood in Tokyo, Japan. When she was three years old, Ogawa moved from this vertical urban backdrop to rural Brazil, where she passed a handful of formative early years amongst wandering farm animals and rushing waterfalls. The artist later relocated to Sweden when she was a teen, where she attended high school, and soon thereafter she moved to London to pursue her BFA from Central Saint Martins. After having her first solo show at Henry Taylor’s studio in Los Angeles, CA in 2017, she had a solo show at Blum & Poe, Tokyo in 2020, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles in 2021, and Blum & Poe, New York in 2022. Her work is in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham NC, and X Museum, Beijing, China. She is currently based in Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY.