Oil Paint, 22 karat Gold, Copper & Silver Leaf on Canvas
The American Maiko series explores my interest in the way traditional cultures are often transformed in contemporary Westernized societies. A maiko is an apprentice geisha. Here is a little info on what the titles mean:
Geisha (//; Japanese: [ɡeːʃa]), like all Japanese nouns, has no distinct singular or plural variants. The word consists of two kanji, 芸 (gei) meaning “art” and 者 (sha) meaning “person” or “doer”. The most literal translation of geisha into English would be “artist,” “performing artist,” or “artisan.”
Apprentice geisha are called maiko (舞子 or 舞妓), literally “dance child”) or hangyoku (半玉), “half-jewel” (meaning that they are paid half of the wage of a full geisha), or by the more generic term o-shaku (御酌), literally “one who pours (alcohol)”. The white make-up and elaborate kimono and hair of a maiko is the popular image held of geisha.
The title American Maiko can be translated to American Dancing Girl, which brings to mind another very Western type of adult entertainer.
In these paintings I created literal light and dark sides, symbolically referencing the thin line that has been created between traditional culture of a highly trained artist and “the world’s oldest profession“.
Despite the symbolic references, the viewer is meant to be drawn in by the eyes in order to meditate on the reality of the human vessel behind the costume and titles.
Watch the painting process unfold in this video:
Oil, 22 karat Gold & Silver Leaf on Canvas
American Maiko with Red Background
Limited Edition Luxury Acrylic Print
Video of the early stages of the creation of American Maiko with Fans was used in a BBC World News interview about artists who work outside of the traditional gallery model. Watch the interview HERE.
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