Icy Heart 2012 and Xavier Heart 2010 by Mieko Meguro
Wednesday 8 June
Private viewing 18.00 – 20.00
Asia House: Studio, Library and Library Annex
Mieko Meguro was born and raised on the Japanese island of Hokkaido and currently lives in New York. She works in various media and she makes illustrated books which are an amalgamation of English children’s ‘picture books’ together with Japanese manga and watercolours.
Her works combine vulnerability and humour with her unique view of transnational identities and cross-cultural histories. After graduating she worked first for a leading architectural firm in Hokkaido and her research for the firm took her to Scandinavia, beginning a life-long love of travel to Italy and France and later to the United States.
For this exhibition Mieko reflects upon ‘matters of the heart’ – a phrase often used to refer to our most intuitive and personal response to relationships and to things that matter to us at any given time without pausing to analyse or explain our reasoning or immediate response. The heart is said to affect our imagination and knowledge of the world; it relies on a profound sense of knowing rather than empirical reasoning or perception.
Xavier Heart relates to her early upbringing when as a child Mieko attended a Catholic school where she became aware of the period in early Japan history when the Spanish Jesuit priest Francis Xavier colonised the island and deeply influenced Japanese culture and religious beliefs. The last words that Ignatius Loyola is purported to have said to Francis Xavier (1506 to 15552) before he led an extensive mission to Asia in 1541, were “Go set all on fire”. He then embarked for India, and later, to Japan travelling with various companions including the Japanese samurai Anjiro who accompanied him to his home port on the Island of Kyushu, in 1549. Francis Xavier was the first Christian missionary in the country and is often considered to be Catholicism’s greatest missionary.
Portraits of the priest often depicted him with his eyes fixed upwards and an emblazoned red heart placed on the outside of his monastic attire. He was one of the founders of the Jesuit Order and his missionary efforts brought him into contact with rulers of the period, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. These encounters had a profound impact on Japanese domestic and international polices for the next 250 years.
Xavier Heart is, for the artist, therefore “connected to both historical trauma, or doubt or problems of one’s belief” according to Mieko.
Of Icy Heart, Mieko has been quoted as saying “This is a self portrait. I struggle with this feeling. I feel that I might have an icy heart and I have a fear that someone’s icy heart might scratch me.”
The Icy Heart objects – icy hearts made of barbed wire painted white – will be placed in the windows at Asia House while and the Xavier Heart objects made from red felt will be placed around the hearths of Asia House to connect the duality of such matters of the heart for Mieko.
Mieko Meguro’s solo exhibitions, outside of Japan, include A&D Gallery in London. They represent the artist in the UK.
Her watercolours have been exhibited alongside Matt Mulligan, Michael Smith, William Wegman, and Ceal Floyer in Drawings curated by Dan Graham at Micheline Szwajcer Gallery, Antwerp; Looking Back/The 10th White Columns Annual, Selected by Matthew Higgs; White Columns, New York, NY USA January 12 – February 20, 2016; The Home Show by Asad Raza, New York, NY USA December 2015; Social Photography IV, Carriage Trade, Emily Harvey Foundation, 537 Broadway, 2nd Fl., NY, NY USA, November 12 – 22, 2014; Social Photography Ⅲ , Carriage Trade New York, NY, USA Dec 2013- Jan 2014; 5x5Castelló, 2013, Premi International d’Art Contemporani Diputació de Castelló, Spain, 25 Oct 2013-12 Jan 2014; T-shirts; Taka Ishii Gallery Modern (Piramide Bldg, Roppongi), Tokyo, Japan, 2013, A Drawing Show; Curated by Dan Graham, Galerie Micheline Szwajcer, Antwerpen, Belgium June 2012; Sweethearts curated by the critic Kathy Battista, at the Pippi Houldsworth Gallery, London (2012).