E-Issue 07 –– AUH
Winter 2023-24

January 29th, 2024

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in Abu Dhabi/Dubai
  3. Cover Interview: Shaikha Al Ketbi on Darawan
  4. Rapport: Public Art in the Gulf and a Case Study of Manar Abu Dhabi
  5. Hashel Al Lamki’s Survey Exhibition Maqam Reflects on a Decade of Practice in Abu Dhabi
  6. “You Can’t Stand on a Movement”: Michelangelo Pistoletto Interviews Benton Interviewing Pistoletto

Winter/Spring 2024

Curators Interview May 14, 2024
AUH Embracing Change through an Open System: Maya Allison and Duygu Demir on “In Real Time” at NYUAD Art Gallery

About ––

    What We Do
    Editorial Board

Interviews ––

    Selected Archive

Open Call ––

    E-08 Seoul

Newsletter ––

Chronological Archive ––

    Selected Archive

Artist Interview November 18th, 2016
AUH Raed Yassin in Abu Dhabi

Editorial March 1st, 2018
AUH Abu Dhabi Is The New Calabasas

Exhibition Listing May 22nd, 2018
DXB Christopher Benton: If We Don't Reclaim Our History, The Sand Will

Artist Interview June 15th, 2018
TYO An Interview with BIEN, a Rising Japanese Artist

Artist Interview July 17th, 2018
TYO Rintaro Fuse on Selfies and Cave Painting

Artist Interview August 28th, 2018
BER Slavs and Tatars: “Pulling a Thread to Undo The Sweater”

Artist Interview September 1st, 2018
NYC Shirin Neshat In Conversation with Sophie Arni and Ev Zverev

Artist Interview September 1st, 2018
PAR Hottest Spices: Michèle Lamy

E-Issue 01 –– AUH/DXB
Summer 2020

August 1st, 2020

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in the UAE
  3. Pop(Corn): Hashel Al Lamki
  4. Tailoring in Abu Dhabi
  5. Rapport: Dubai
  6. Michael Rakowitz From the Diaspora

Fall/Winter 2020-21

Artist Interview August 23rd, 2020
LHR/MCT Hanan Sultan Rhymes Frankincense with Minimalism

Artist Interview August 24th, 2020
DXB Augustine Paredes Taking Up Space

Artist Interview August 26th, 2020
AUH Sarah Almehairi Initiates Conversations

Market Interview August 28th, 2020
AUH/DXB 101 Pioneers Ethical and Curious Art Collecting

Exhibition September 1st, 2020
DXB Alserkal Arts Foundation Presents Mohamed Melehi

Market Interview September 4th, 2020
DXB Meet Tamila Kochkarova Behind ‘No Boys Allowed’

Artist Interview September 7th, 2020
DXB Taaboogah Infuses Comedy Into Khaleeji Menswear

Artist Interview September 10th, 2020
LHR/CAI Alaa Hindia’s Jewelry Revives Egyptian Nostalgia

Curator Interview September 14th, 2020
UAE Tawahadna Introduces MENA Artists to a Global Community

Exhibition Review September 24th, 2020
MIA a_part Gives Artists 36 Hours to React

Artist Interview September 27th, 2020
AUH BAIT 15 Welcomes New Member Zuhoor Al Sayegh

Market Interview October 14th, 2021
DXB Thaely Kicks Off Sustainable Sneakers

Exhibition Review October 19th, 2020
DXB Do You See Me How I See You?

Exhibition October 22nd, 2020
TYO James Jarvis Presents Latest Collages at 3110NZ

Exhibition Review October 22nd, 2020
AUH Ogamdo: Crossing a Cultural Highway between Korea and the UAE

Book Review October 28th, 2020
DAM Investigating the Catalogues of the National Museum of Damascus

Exhibition Review November 13th, 2020
Kanye Says Listen to the Kids: Youth Takeover at Jameel Arts Centre

Exhibition Review November 16th, 2021
DXB Melehi’s Waves Complicate Waving Goodbye

Exhibition Review November 19th, 2020
DXB Spotlight on Dubai Design Week 2020

Exhibition Review November 21st, 2020
DXB 101 Strikes Again with Second Sale at Alserkal Avenue

Exhibition Review
November 23rd, 2020

AUH SEAF Cohort 7 at Warehouse 421

Exhibition Review December 9th, 2020
SHJ Sharjah Art Foundation Jets Ahead on the Flying Saucer

Curator Interview January 25th, 2021
DXB Sa Tahanan Collective Redefines Home for Filipino Artists

Exhibition Review February 21st, 2021
GRV MIA Anywhere Hosts First Virtual Exhibition of Female Chechen Artists  

🎙️GAD Talk Series –– Season 1 2020

November 1st, 2020
1. What is Global Art Daily? 2015 to Now

November 16th, 2020
2. Where is Global Art Daily? An Open Coversation on Migration as Art Practitioners

November 29th, 2020
3. When the Youth Takes Over: Reflecting on the 2020 Jameel Arts Centre Youth Takeover

December 20th, 2020
4. Young Curators in Tokyo: The Making of The 5th Floor

January 27th, 2021
5. How To Create Digital Networks in The Art World?

E-Issue 02 –– NYC
Spring 2021

February 21st, 2021

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in NYC
  3. Pop(Corn): Zeid Jaouni
  4. You Can Take The Girl Out Of The City
  5. Rapport: NYC
  6. Kindergarten Records Discuss The Future of Electronic Music
  7. Sole DXB Brings NY Hip-Hop To Abu Dhabi
  8. Wei Han Finds ‘Home’ In New York
  9. Vikram Divecha: Encounters and Negotiations

Spring/Summer 2021

Exhibition Review March 3rd, 2021
DXB There’s a Hurricane at the Foundry

Exhibition Review March 7th, 2021
AUH Re-viewing Contrasts: Hyphenated Spaces at Warehouse421

Curator Interview March 21st, 2021
DXB Permeability and Regional Nodes: Sohrab Hura on Curating Growing Like a Tree at Ishara Art Foundation

Exhibition March 28th, 2021
DXB Alserkal Art Week Top Picks

Exhibition Review April 1st, 2021
DXB A ‘Menu Poem’ and All That Follows

Exhibition Review April 5th, 2021
DXB A Riot Towards Landscapes

Exhibition April 16th, 2021
RUH Noor Riyadh Shines Light on Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Art Strategy

Artist Interview April 26th, 2021
CTU/AUH/YYZ Sabrina Zhao: Between Abu Dhabi, Sichuan, and Toronto

Exhibition Review April 27th, 2021
TYO BIEN Opens Two Solo Exhibitions in Island Japan and Parcel

Artist Interview April 28th, 2021
DXB Ana Escobar: Objects Revisited

Exhibition May 9th, 2021
LDN Fulfilment Services Ltd. Questions Techno-Capitalism on Billboards in London

Artist Interview May 11th, 2021
BAH Mihrab: Mysticism, Devotion, and Geo-Identity

Curator Interview May 20th, 2021
DXB There Is A You In The Cloud You Can’t Delete: A Review of “Age of You” at Jameel Arts Centre

Market Interview May 26th, 2021
TYO Startbahn, Japan’s Leading Art Blockchain Company, Builds a New Art Infrastructure for the Digital Age

Exhibition June 11th, 2021
TYO “Mimicry of Hollows” Opens at The 5th Floor

Exhibiton Review June 20th, 2021
AUH “Total Landscaping”at Warehouse 421

Artist Interview June 30th, 2021
OSA Rintaro Fuse Curates “Silent Category” at Creative Center Osaka

Exhibition Review August 9th, 2021
DXB “After The Beep”: A Review and Some Reflections

E-Issue 03 ––TYO
Fall 2021

October 1st, 2022

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in TYO
  3. Pop(Corn): Nimyu
  4. Ahmad The Japanese: Bady Dalloul on Japan and Belonging
  5. Rapport: Tokyo
  6. Alexandre Taalba Redefines Virtuality at The 5th Floor
  7. Imagining Distant Ecologies in Hypersonic Tokyo: A Review of “Floating Between the Tropical and Glacial Zones”
  8. Ruba Al-Sweel Curates “Garden of e-arthly Delights” at SUMAC Space
  9. Salwa Mikdadi Reflects on the Opening of NYU Abu Dhabi’s Arab Center for the Study of Art

Fall/Winter 2021-22

Market Interview October 6th, 2021
RUH HH Prince Fahad Al Saud Discusses Saudi Arabia’s Artistic Renaissance

Exhibition October 7th, 2021
RUH Misk Art Institute’s Annual Flagship Exhibition Explores the Universality of Identity

Curator Interview October 15th, 2021
IST “Once Upon a Time Inconceivable”: A Review and a Conversation

Exhibition Review October 16th, 2021
AUH Woman as a Noun, and a Practice: “As We Gaze Upon Her” at Warehouse421

Exhibition Review February 11th, 2022

Artist Interview February 26th, 2022
TYO Akira Takayama on McDonald’s Radio University, Heterotopia, and Wagner Project

Artist Interview March 10th, 2022
DXB Prepare The Ingredients and Let The Rest Flow: Miramar and Zaid’s “Pure Data” Premieres at Satellite for Quoz Arts Fest 2022

Exhibition March 11th, 2022
DXB Must-See Exhibitions in Dubai - Art Week Edition 2022

Exhibition Review March 14th, 2022
DXB Art Dubai Digital, An Alternative Art World?

E-Issue 04 –– IST
Spring 2022

March 15th, 2022

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in IST
  3. Pop(Corn): Refik Anadol
  4. Rapport: Istanbul
  5. Independent Spaces in Istanbul: Sarp Özer on Operating AVTO

Spring/Summer 2022

Curator Interview March 21st, 2022

Market Interview March 28th, 2022
DXB Dubai's Postmodern Architecture: Constructing the Future with 3dr Models

Exhibition April 23rd, 2022
HK Startbahn Presents “Made in Japan 3.0: Defining a New Phy-gital Reality”, an NFT Pop-Up at K11 Art Mall

Exhibition May 6th, 2022
Istanbul’s 5533 Presents Nazlı Khoshkhabar’s “Around and Round”

Artist Interview May 13th, 2022
“We Are Witnessing History”: Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian On Their Retrospective Exhibition at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery

Artist Interview June 13th, 2022
DXB “Geometry is Everywhere”: An Interview and Walking Tour of Order of Magnitude, Jitish Kallat’s Solo Exhibition at Dubai’s Ishara Art Foundation

Exhibition June 21st, 2022
DXB Art Jameel Joins The World Weather Network in a Groundbreaking Response to Global Climate Crisis

Exhibition June 27th, 2022
What’s On in the UAE: Our Top Summer Picks

Curator Interview July 9th, 2022
IST Creating an Artist Books Library in Istanbul: Aslı Özdoyuran on BAS

E-Issue 05 –– VCE
Fall 2022

September 5th, 2022

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in VCE
  3. Pop(Corn): UAE National Pavilion
  4. Rapport: Venice
  5. Zeitgeist of our Time: Füsun Onur for the Turkish Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale
  6. GAD’s Top Picks: National Pavilions
  7. Strangers to the Museum Wall: Kehinde Wiley’s Venice Exhibition Speaks of Violence and Portraiture
  8. Questioning Everyday Life: Alluvium by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian at OGR Torino in Venice

Fall/Winter 2022-23

Market Interview June 28th, 2022
How Pearl Lam Built Her Gallery Between China and Europe

Exhibition November 11th, 2022
“Atami Blues” Brings Together UAE-Based and Japanese Artists in HOTEL ACAO ANNEX

Exhibition December 2nd, 2022
TYO Wetland Lab Proposes Sustainable Cement Alternative in Tokyo

Artist Interview December 9th, 2022
DXB Navjot Altaf Unpacks Eco-Feminism and Post-Pandemic Reality at Ishara Art Foundation

Artist Interview January 8th, 2023
TYO Shu Yonezawa and the Art of Animation

Artist Interview January 19th, 2023
NYC Reflecting on Her Southwestern Chinese Bai Roots, Peishan Huang Captures Human Traces on Objects and Spaces

Exhibition Review February 9th, 2023
DXB Augustine Paredes Builds His Paradise Home at Gulf Photo Plus

Artist Interview February 22nd, 2023
DXB Persia Beheshti Shares Thoughts on Virtual Worlds and the State of Video Art in Dubai Ahead of Her Screening at Bayt Al Mamzar

E-Issue 06 –– DXB/SHJ
Spring 2023

April 12th, 2023

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in the UAE
  3. Pop(Corn): Jumairy
  4. Rapport: Art Dubai 2023
  5. Highlights from Sharjah Biennial 15
  6. Is Time Just an Illusion? A Review of "Notations on Time" at Ishara Art Foundation
  7. Saif Mhaisen and His Community at Bayt AlMamzar

DXB Christopher Joshua Benton to Debut Mubeen, City as Archive at The Third Line Shop in Collaboration with Global Art Daily

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Layla Yamamoto Relates Feminism and Japanese Anime

By Sophie Mayuko Arni
Published on January 16, 2024

        Layla Yamamoto is a painter and multimedia artist based in Tokyo, who I interviewed last year after seeing her paintings at multiple art fairs and exhibitions throughout Japan. Her intricate flower-meets-anime paintings struck me as relating anime culture with a social awareness of women’s place in a patriarchal Japanese society. 

Having attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Yamamoto shifts smoothly between Western discourse and her brilliant technical painting skills – she was trained in traditional Nihonga painting. In the following conversation, we cover the impact of anime and manga in Japanese visual arts, and her views on Tokyo’s art scene. 

The following conversation took place in Tokyo in July 2023.

1. Layla Yamamoto, I Hate Flowers 1, 2021. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Ritsuki Fujisaki Gallery.

Sophie Arni: Let’s first start with your beginnings as a painter. Why did you decide to study art in the United States? I know that it happens sometimes but it is not so common, so I was wondering if you could tell us about this choice and about your studies.

Layla Yamamoto: I first majored in Nihonga traditional Japanese painting - when I was in high school and I did not like it because the style was too conservative. I wanted to study other forms of Japanese art like ukiyo-e and ink wash painting, the very old styles. I’m Japanese but I didn't know much about Japanese art. I realized however that these practices completely vanished from our education system.

That kind of education disappeared centuries ago. After the Meiji period, painting was either in tune with French Academy styles or Nihonga style combined with the use of pigments. I couldn't study other forms of Japanese art in Japan.

I was also reading a lot of books written by [Takashi] Murakami and [Makoto] Aida and other contemporary artists in Japan and they always mentioned the deficiencies of Japanese art education. If students want to learn true fine art education, they would need to go to the United States or Europe.

I then found out about governmental program that high school students in Tokyo can apply to to study abroad in the US, Australia or New Zealand. I joined the program, and with governmental support, students did not have to pay much. I went to the US when I was a sophomore in high school for almost one month. I went to the East Coast, Boston, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC, and then came back to Japan. Then I studied abroad again for one year, and I ended up in a conservative Christian community school with no art classes. That was a very difficult period. Thankfully I had the opportunity to attend the National Portfolio Day organized by the Virginia Commonwealth University, where I met a lot of people from art schools and colleges in the US. They told me that I could get a scholarship at SAIC [School of the Art Institute of Chicago]. My portfolio was good enough to get into the college and they supported me for my application.

2. Layla Yamamoto, Who Said it Was Simple? Solo exhibition at Ritsuki Fujisaki Gallery, Tokyo. 2022. Installation view. Courtesy of the artist and Ritsuki Fujisaki Gallery.

S.A.: That is such a great story and it was very courageous of you – I know how tough it is to be immersed in another culture at a young age, especially surrounded by people who do not share your worldview. You start to question and doubt yourself at every step of the way.

L.Y.: The governmental program had many high school students, but we were sent one by one to every school. So I was completely alone, and high schools in the US were a big cultural shock coming straight from Japan. It was a very tough time for me, also as I didn’t speak English well at a time. There were many barriers. 

S.A.: I think what you said is super interesting, about reading books by Murakami or Aida and finding out their views on Japanese art education. I guess I can understand, but also on the other side, in the US, people complain that they don't learn technique as much. Art education can be focused solely on conceptual and theoretical ideas. Looking back at your experiences, what do you think about this? Is the US system actually better than the Japanese?  

L.Y.: In Japan, students can only learn techniques and we don't have any chance to learn art history or theory: how to build a concept and visualize it. In general, artists in Japan have a hard time at conveying what they think. It’s more about creation and do not really know what they make and I think that’s the issue.

The US education system has a lot of problems but artists know what they make. I felt blown away by other students’ ability to express their ideas and concepts.

In Japan, students majoring in painting only learn painting, and sculpture majors only learn sculpture, they don't know how to combine those different mediums together. Conversely, art colleges like SAIC have many programs where students can learn and combine a lot of different mediums or other practices. We write and we think about concepts. We write about art history so we learn how to use what we learn to express what we think. At the end, I thought the US education was much better.

S.A: So you did your BFA and MFA in Chicago?

L.Y.: I actually couldn't graduate because I had serious family issues, I had to come back to Japan in my sophomore year. I took some online classes at SAIC after coming back, and I also traveled to Miami and Hong Kong for art fairs and exhibitions.

S.A.: So your painting technique is more self-taught.

L.Y.: My friends in SAIC helped me a lot. Since I couldn't go back, they shared information and resources they would learn at school. Even though we were apart, we called almost every day.

S.A.: That was before all the Zoom calls and pandemic, right? Then you started to show in Chicago and in group shows in New York and Berlin. What kind of work were you making at that time, around 2016?

L.Y.: It was completely different from what I do right now. I was making artworks reflecting my emotions. I used ballpoint pens and acrylic paints a lot and I look at my past work as surrealistic. They look like illustration works, and different from what I make right now.

I used to draw a lot of babies' faces, representing my own inner self. I was making those kinds of works till joining a group show in Berlin. I started to change and I needed to rethink more about what I actually wanted to say. I didn't think much about the concept because I was making it in the way that I learned about art in Japan. In my mind, there is always that process whereas in the US people do not do it that way. After I understanding that, I felt that maybe I could have changed how I make my art, so it was completely different.

3. Layla Yamamoto, After the Quake, 2021. Installation view. Mitsukoshimae Fukushima Building, Tokyo, Japan. Courtesy of the artist. Below: Layla Yamamoto, Therefore I want it (Postwar is over), 2019. Acrylic on canvas. Layla Yamamoto, A girl in Los Alamos, 2019. Acrylic on canvas. Images courtesy of the artist. 

S.A.: I guess your main themes include the representation of Japan in the Western world but also feminism, did you already have these things at that point or were you just starting to conceptualize those?

L.Y.: I was thinking to make artworks reflecting on nuclear power and tensions between the US and Japan. My mother’s relatives are all from Hiroshima, so I have a lot of relatives who can share with me their nuclear survivor history. I was told those family histories by my relatives and my mother. At the American high school I went to, teachers in history class told me that dropping atomic bombs to Japanese cities saved millions of lives. I had such a big struggle in my mind because actual survivors were my own relatives. To the Americans, the atomic bomb represented justice, ending World War II and destroying enemies. I started to think how I can express that complicated relation with nuclear power. I experimented a lot smoothing and visualizing my concept but it didn't work well in SAIC. After coming back to Japan I actually focused more on creating those kinds of works. 

S.A.: It's a very complicated question because of your personal experiences – but what do you think of the relationship between Japan and the US? Especially in the art world, as you were mentioning people like Murakami, who have this theory of the Big Brother and the small child. He wrote that after the atomic bomb Japan felt like a small child, always looking up to America, and that this reflects into the art world with Japanese artists feeling somewhat ‘small’ compared to US artists. What do you think about this theory?

L.Y.: I think that it is partially true and partially not. Japan really wanted to be an “adult” before WWII and before our defeat, we were an imperial country. We invaded Asian countries and colonized them and during that time we were a “mature country” with an “enlightened” culture from the westernized and modernized perspective with colonial power. After the defeat, Japan went under US control. We became economically successful under the US, so I feel like – or maybe Japanese men think – that we don't have to be mature anymore. The US control was actually beneficial to Japan in some sense. We already are economically successful, and politically stable, so there is no real need to think about real freedom, or think critically about the past. In that sense, we became sort of “child” of the U.S. But I do feel that this view of the past is quite male-centric and male-dominated.

4. Layla Yamamoto, Who Said it Was Simple? Solo exhibition at Ritsuki Fujisaki Gallery, Tokyo. 2022. Installation view. Courtesy of the artist and Ritsuki Fujisaki Gallery.

S.A.: When looking at your recent series of works you exhibited at Who said it was simple? – your last solo exhibition at Ritsuki Fujisaki Gallery in Tokyo, Japan – I can feel a strong sense of feminism. Could you expand on your views of women and the female role in Japanese society?

L.Y.: Before WWII, Japanese women didn’t have much right to own properties, to do what they wanted, they didn’t have the right to vote. They were objectified for patriarchal society.

After the defeat, Japanese women gained equalrights. This idea of gender equality emerged. To that perspective, the end of imperialism was a good thing. It released women from patriarchal rules in Japan as well as freeing the people of Japan's former colonies.

S.A.: In some sense, Japanese women are still objectified today, in contemporary society.

L.Y.: Yes, men still have power. Often in the workplace, women are still considered as “volunteers”, or unpaid workers, there to assist men. Patriarchal system is deeply engrained in our society, you could even say that it is a considered a symbol of Japanese culture.

5. Layla Yamamoto, Flawless 4, 2021. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Ritsuki Fujisaki Gallery.

S.A.: In your recent paintings, you mix anime imagery with words – one painting reads “We teach girls to make themselves smaller”. Where do these sentences come from?

L.Y.: Those words are from Beyonce’s song Flawless. The original quote is from Adichie, a Nigerian writer who became famous after her TED Talk titled “We should all be feminists.” Society teaches girls they have to see each other as enemies and make themselves smaller.

I put these suppressive words next to half-anime, half-realistic faces of young girls because they really resonated together. Girls in Japan grow up on anime, in this fantastical world that promises us that we can be anything we want when we grow up. We can transform ourselves into any being or creature – there is a lot of escapism and freedom in anime actually.

When we think about the common advertisements we see on the subway, such as makeup ads with pretty women, smiling, telling us that  “we have to be beautiful”, “we have to be pretty”, “white teeth, big eyes, smooth skin” – I see those as limited. That narrative is completely different from the self-actualization and adventures we learn from anime. Sailor Moon, for example, taught us that girls can be powerful, that they can be strong.

6. Layla Yamamoto, Who said it was simple 1, 2022. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Ritsuki Fujisaki Gallery.

S.A.: I was struck by a large pink painting Who said it was simple? with images of flowers in the background.

L.Y.: That work is about how true sisterhood can be created and maintained. The anime figures are very peaceful, they represent harmless friendship, and their faces look the same and stare at each other intimately. Anime is very idealistic. Next to them, I painted grotesque realistic faces, who look different from one another. While two women are different, and their scars and struggles may differ. The fight in the struggle represents true sisterhood, to recall Audrey Road’s Sister Outsider essay.

In the feminist movement, there are a lot of fights amongst female groups. Often, women themselves tend to forget how different we all are: divided by social class, skin color, cultures. Only a few women have power, and I think it is their responsibility to shine light on women in minority groups. We actually need to appreciate our differences, as much as we appreciate our sameness.

7. Layla Yamamoto, I Hate Flowers 6, 2021. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Ritsuki Fujisaki Gallery. 
S.A.: You also told me earlier that your background is inspired from Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower painting, as an ode to a great female artist.

L.Y.: Yes, I titled these series of paintings I Hate Flowers series after a famous quote by Georgia O’Keeffe. She hated flowers, but she painted them over and over again.

S.A.: What do you think about your collectors, in light of the male-dominated art market?

L.Y.: I put a lot of references to feminism in my work, from Beyonce to words from a Nigerian activist – I’m not sure to which extent collectors understand all these references.

I would say, even if my work is collected by a collector who has no other feminist work in their collection – even if they misunderstand my work, it’s still a great thing if they hang my painting in their house. This is the power of art. My work can exist in private spaces that I would not otherwise go to. I can get to private homes and leave a feminist message. Even if they don’t understand it, they will live with a feminist work, which is already a small change.

There are a few female collectors in the Japanese art market, but I do wish we could see more of them.

8. Layla Yamamoto, Flawless 1, 2021. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Ritsuki Fujisaki Gallery.

S.A.: I’d like to ask how you feel about the Tokyo contemporary art scene, and your views on the gallery scene and opportunities for young artists to exhibit their works. 

L.Y.: It’s pretty tough, as the Japanese art scene doesn’t fully accept feminism and queerness. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of feminist artists in Japan, but there is not much written history about feminist art.

Young contemporary artists want to learn about previous artists, but without written documentation, it makes for a lack of support for feminist artists. It doesn’t help that many institutional museum curators are male, and for the most part, don’t pick up openly-feminist artists.

Museums have group shows about feminist art, but my feeling is that they’re often about apolitical feminism. I’ve seen many women artists exhibitions in the recent years all over Japan, but the central concept is not necessarily feminist. There is also an issue with showing female nudity, painted by a female artist, in public – a lot of venues won’t accept that. I feel like it’s still inappropriate for women artists to show this kind of works in public.

S.A.: How about showing works outside Japan? Did you find it easier to show these paintings in art fairs you’ve participated in, for example? Sometimes that commercial glaze can be an equilibrium.

L.Y.: In broad general terms, the Western art scene welcomes feminist works. It’s more common to see women artists deal with this kind of work, so it’s easier to show them. It’s not that strange from the public’s point of view.

I’m showing my I Hate Flowers paintings in Boston right now, a gallery invited me for a group show.

5. Layla Yamamoto, I Hate Flowers 5, 2021. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Ritsuki Fujisaki Gallery.

S.A.: Have you considered exploring other mediums, other than painting, in your work?

L.Y.: In the future, I’d like to push more mediums. I’m not great at using new technology, but I’ve been experimenting with new media works. The quality is not yet at the stage I can show these in public, but I hope to keep working on them. I also want to make more sculptural works.

In general, I do love painting. I think it’s still a very powerful medium in today’s digital age. Paintings are easily bought, sold, and traded. Collectors can hang them in their private homes, making painting a more private medium in some sense. A painting is a more private object than a public installation, and I’d like to explore that element of privacy further.

A painting exists in the unique relationship between viewer and object. Installations, video, and sculptures are more public-facing, aimed a large audience.

Layla Yamamoto (b. 1995) is a contemporary artist born and based in Tokyo and has enrolled in School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015. She was granted Distinguished Merit Scholarship and Art Bash recommendation in SAIC.