25 August 2023
Shingo Yamazaki explores memory,
transformation, and definitions of home
by Kate Mothes
In vibrant, enigmatic paintings, Shingo Yamazaki questions myriad meanings of home, identity, and cultural hybridity. A recent transplant to Los Angeles from Honolulu, the artist plumbs personal experience to examine connections to family and a sense of belonging, drawing on his upbringing in Hawai’i and his Japanese and Korean ancestry. “My work navigates the disjointed concept of ‘place,’ being part of a community that I don’t have direct lineage to while having limited connection to my own personal, generational ties,” he says.
Working in oil and acrylic, Yamazaki renders pensive figures beyond spectral, veil-like paint that peer out directly at the viewer as if trying to catch a glimpse through a haze. He views the transparent application like a physical layer of history. “These thin coats allow the figure to become camouflaged within familiar domestic spaces, comparable to the invisibility of migrant, and diasporic families,” he says. “The genesis of the work stems from the fact that generations who have migrated have had to assimilate, and the form that this assimilation takes is a unique story to each community.”
The artist begins with observations of everyday life, like interactions with relatives or running errands, and pairs them with images culled from his family’s archive of photographs. The viewer becomes complicit in some of the works, actively sought by Yamazaki’s subjects through the crack of an ajar door or between the slats of a jalousie window. He is interested in the liminal, in-between spaces created between the figures, the object of their gaze, and the implied passing of time. “These new spaces give as much as they take from the viewer, leaving them in an in-between space of memory and forgetfulness,” he says.
© Shingo Yamazaki, courtesy of the artist
Header image: Detail of Looking Glass