© Shinro Ohtake
Cloth adhesive tape and resin on laminated chromogenic analog print mounted on wooden panelexpand_more
The Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fundexpand_more 2016.81
In the mid-1980s, Shinro Ohtake began to document his dreams through works on paper and collage. These vague, shifting images would appear to him as he viewed the underside of his eyelids. According to the artist, “The colors of the underside of the eyelid are truly mysterious colors. The real world glimpsed through the shutter-speed filter of a single layer of skin opening and closing over the surface of the eyeball transforms momentarily into another world. The underside of the eyelid is the only dream screen we have to look at when we shut our eyes.”
The Retina series gives these vague, hazy shapes—products of the artist’s mind—a concrete form by means of photography. Through a process that involves the manipulation of film in a solution (but no camera), the artist creates liquid images in a dreamy palette of transparent colors that become abstract representations of time and memory.Shinro Ohtake’s work represents an important bridge between the work of postwar Japanese artists in Mia’s collection such as the untitled 1967 painting by Yayoi Kusama (2010.7) and later contemporary Japanese artists also present in Mia’s collection such as Yasumasa Morimura (2010.25) and Yoshitomo Nara (2007.100). The 1980s and 1990s are often a blank spot in collections of contemporary Japanese art in the United States, and Ohtake’s Retina series is an important example not only of the artist’s production during those years but of the ambitious experimentation with technology and issues of cultural identity happening in Japan at the time.