Arisa Kumagai

2020.12.25, 26/ 2021.1.8, 9, 12, 13




Over the canvas of my own upbringing and the others’ upbringing, I paint art focusing on the emotions and looks of people, in the irrational and ironic state, in dichotomy such as wealth and poverty, life and death, love and hate, like the opposite sides of a same coin.


This ceramic leopard was painted specially to symbolize our doomed possibility, personally and socially, of becoming an assailant.


I married a very big man.  He made me reconfirm, once again, the fact that I was physically vulnerable, and this revelation made me jealous, but also made me yarn for him. By the time I noticed it, I found the faint feeling that “I wish I was born a man” accumulated as a deranged feeling that “I wanted to be given life as you, my lame thing”.


One night, my better half had a nightmare and unknowingly got up and strung me in the neck.

Soon he woke up to see what he’s done, and cried shamelessly saying “I might kill you one day” shrinking his massive body to its minimum. I felt the spur of happiness to this situation that I “with such fragile physique could brutally harm this Herculean man’s heart” and at the same time felt “how lovable” my husband was, pouring tears over his own innate violence.


I know that I will not be able to evade the possibility of becoming an assailant myself, as long as I continue to create my art.


Arisa Kumagai



【Recommendation by Tomoko Yabumae, the jury member of Shell Art Prize】

In the works by Arisa Kumagai, there’s a strange coherence uniting the extraordinary and ordinary, and extravagant texture of high fashion and mundane memory of her family, since her parents ran a boutique for the outlaws. What Kumagai depicts is the thorn that appears when the resolution of the superficial “beauty” is raised acutely; or the domain of inauspiciousness. And it suggests to us that beauty, love and happiness, those approbatory aspects of life are on uncertain grounds, transient and brittle, affected by the restless consumerism or power imbalance due to gender, surrounding our lives. This new work, depicting a decorative object in a form of a leopard, along with a perceptive artist’s statement, points out to us the secretive aggressiveness and adoration for subordination buried in affection, are in herself being a woman, however undeniably. Being aware that such violence is inseparably connected to the act of painting, she confronts the impulsive urge, in tranquility.

Installation view: photo by Keizo Kioku