Asako Shimizu — Storyteller



Asako Shimizu

Past: January 31 → February 28, 2015

At first glance, Asako Shimizu’s latest photographs seem filled with silence, asleep under a thick blanket formed by the whirling snow. Yet, as their title suggests, these images tell us a story, inviting us along the snowy roads of Northern Japan, listening for the whispers of the universe. But who exactly is this Storyteller ? Our own inner voice ? Asako Shimizu herself? Or is it rather Nature, the vital manifestations the artist strives to reveal ? Manifestations found in the snowflakes that are swept away by the wind, creating paintings in multiple shades of white; or, more subtly, in the small hints of color scattered on the immaculate surfaces ? As, although the series is dominated by soft grayish tones, Storyteller doesn’t exclude colour, which sometimes emerges like a breath of spring trying to revive the white landscape.

These photographs, whose atmosphere seems almost unreal, could relate a tale that begins on the day of a blizzard, at an unknown time, on the border of a forest, in a modest hut, against which a ladder has been forgotten; a fantastical story, in which a parade of prehistoric animals might suddenly appear. But, to the false nature of these painted creatures, answers the real presence, full of energy and stifled cries, of a few birds tearing through the misty sky. Also full of life, the snowflakes form a dotted veil over the scene. Their ballet contradicts the stillness of the landscapes, momentarily frozen by the will of the elements. The flakes obscuring the camera’s lense also remind us of the difficulties encountered by the artist in capturing these images. Storyteller generates mixed feelings of peace and brutal strength, of the calm not after the storm, but right into the storm.

The series succeeds in expressing a certain delicacy in spite of the conditions under which it was created, in spite also of the presence of soulless buildings that appear like phantom ships lost in a snowy vastness. Except for these ungainly vessels, into which one can imagine people may have nevertheless found a cozy and much appreciated shelter, human presence is almost invisible. A lone silhouette appears and seems to answer the silent invitation of a solitary and imposing tree. In other photographs, groups of bare trees imprint their graphic shapes upon the heavy sky, weaving a sweeping lace whose undulating and asymmetric borders give the images a nearly abstract dimension. The importance accorded to emptiness in the photographs emphasizes their contemplative quality, and is revealing of the artist’s Japanese origins. But, even though it is meditative and based on a rigorous discipline, Asako Shimizu’s art is also rich in emotion. It teaches us how to feel again, at the deepest level, the vibrations of the world, how to attune our breathing with that of the universe.

This work requires of the photographer to remain vigilant, eyes and soul fully opened, no matter the circumstances. The sincerity of her method can also be felt in Asako Shimizu’s choice of a photography devoid of heavy retouching. The artist opts for a direct vision, for an honest and frank dialogue with her environment. She transmits to the viewer what she herself experienced during this meteorological event that has suddenly shown her the world in an unexpected way. Let us share this moment with her, and be attentive to the fragile chant of nature, which Asako Shimizu knows so well how to visually translate for us.

Valérie Douniaux, Ph.D in Modern and Contemporary Japanese art.
  • Opening Saturday, January 31, 2015 4 PM → 8 PM
NextLevel Gallery Gallery
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03 Le Marais Zoom in 03 Le Marais Zoom out

8, rue Charlot

75003 Paris

T. 01 44 54 90 88

Filles du Calvaire
Saint-Sébastien – Froissart

Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 11 AM – 7 PM
Other times by appointment

The artist

  • Asako Shimizu