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Mayumi Yamase - The Softest Stroke

Words:

Edd Norval
June 7, 2021

Artist Mayumi Yamase utilises soft and subtle brushstrokes, emblematic of Japanese painting and calligraphy, to create powerful messages and interesting reinterpretations of iconic branding.

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Working with Nike on a new collaboration, her choice of a muted palette and transformative brushstrokes offer the brand a feminine and artistic outlet for their streetwear lines. Influenced to work in fashion and design by her mother, whose Les Briqu’a Braque and Matriochka store outfits some of the most eccentric and eye-catching figures in Harajuku’s streetwear scene. 


The shop is filled with interesting original textiles as well as bespoke and rare garments. Highly expressionistic, it’s likely that much of these eye-catching designs informed her own practice for which she has since become a standout artist in her own right.


Painting in an almost childlike manner, using acrylics that look like watercolours, her combination of shape, colour and text are extremely minimalistic and appeal to that part within us all that relates to the paintings created in nursery - where unadulterated expression was the purpose of each exercise that plays out with a childlike awe. 

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A lot of the paintings seem to be created on tile, lending to the semi-washed effect that has become ubiquitous throughout her art. Others are a combination of acrylic and oil on canvas, cracked with the aging that the medium grants, its movements punctuating the drying effects of the ink to create a textural plane. 


When the colours, shapes and spaces interplay amongst each other, we see something in action that most of us have or will lose - our freedom to tell a truth in the way that feels natural to us. Throughout life we are burdened with the feeling that there are things we should and shouldn’t do, or things that we should and shouldn’t say. It’s usually the weight of expectation that we put upon ourselves and each other that leads us the furthest away from what we are. In her art, Mayumi Yamase seems free from this.  


Shifting playfully across the page, her painting becomes its own world, a landscape that she has created through comfort within her own vision. Rather than hiding from it, she embodies it. It is likely that this feature of her process and personality helped Nike identify her art as something that significantly differentiates her pieces from the plethora of painters flooding instagram.

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Identity is something unique to us all, yet we seem to strive to hide in the shade of others - of sports stars, politicians, friends, family and social movements. We are comfortable being recognised by how we associated with others. It is those, like this artist in these simple paintings, who dare to do as they want to do that ultimately stand out and ultimately, become who they’re meant to be and with them comes the opportunity for greatness.

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