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Homma, Kaori - VM - Meryl Doney

Kaori Homma: Crucifix – Under the Foreign Sky and Pain of Expectation II

Transformed by Fire

by Meryl Doney

A stark, knobbly tree jutting over the rooftops of an unremarkable suburb of Tokyo; an anonymous building in Rome. The viewer might be forgiven for comparing them, enjoying the interplay of tones and shapes and moving on. But there is far more to see and to understand here. The two works were submitted for the two-part exhibition to be held in Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire this spring. Entitled Crossings: Art and Christianity Now it is divided into two parts, the first under the title Crucifixion Now and the second, Resurrection Now. Homma’s two works are a meditation on these themes.

Homma’s chosen medium is integral to her practice and to the depth of meaning in the works she is producing. The images are not created by pigment sitting on a surface but are etched into the paper by fire. In the past this technique, called ‘aburidashi’ in Japanese, was associated with secret correspondence. Invisible Ink made with lemon juice is used to render the images, slightly altering the chemical balance of the paper.  Once exposed to the heat, the images are burnt into paper as an integral part of its structure. Homma says, “In my work, the appearance of beauty and quietness conceals the violence inflicted in the process of its making.” … “The resulting image contains a level of fragility and notion of death within its very nature. In my work the connotation of transience associated with this methodology is important.”

This dwelling on the impermanent and ephemeral is particularly acutely felt in Japan after the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the more recent shocks of the Fukushima earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster in 2011. For Homma, it highlights the fragility of our existence on this planet.

The title of the first piece, ‘Under the Foreign Sky’, refers to the fact that a large portion of Tokyo sky actually belongs to a US military base rather than to Japan. It portrays the artist’s feeling of alienation, working under a familiar and yet foreign sky. The lonely tree also points towards the cross, often termed ‘the tree’ of Calvary. There is alienation here and a profound loneliness – echoes of sorrow and acquaintance with grief.

The second image was made in the heat of a research visit to Rome in 2017. A silhouetted doorway could be the mouth of an empty tomb. The sky is glowing, presaging a dawn. In Rome, the artist felt the ‘compacting’ effect of all the histories of the land crowding in. She says, “After the dawn of resurrection 2000 years ago feels like yesterday and we are still aching towards the arrival of his Kingdom, which is yet to come.”


Kaori Homma: Crucifix – Under the Foreign Sky, 2018, Aburidashi, Fire Etching (acid, fire and water on paper), 56 x 76 cm. 

Kaori Homma: Pain of Expectation II, 2018, Aburidashi, Fire Etching (acid, fire and water on paper), 56 x 76 cm.

Kaori Homma was born in Japan. She has a BA in Fine Art from Tokyo University of Art and Design and an MA in Fine Art Sculpture from Chelsea School of Art in London, England. She is based in London and exhibits internationally. Her work has been selected for a number of competitions including the Royal Academy, ING Discerning Eye exhibition, and the Threadneedle Prize. Homma is a co-founder of Art Action UK and Coordinator of Brockley Open Studios. She teaches at Central St Martins and University of the Arts London.

Crossings: Art and Christianity Now, Crucifixion Now: 9th Feb-21st March 2018 and Resurrection Now: 1st April-10th May 2018. A major two-part art exhibition by 36 contemporary artists, taking place at Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire, UK. The Historic Minster will be filled with over 100 artworks made especially for this unique exhibition, twice! The artists come from a mixture of belief backgrounds, but all are interested in exploring the themes of crucifixion and resurrection and refreshing them visually for today. Each artist has made two artworks, with one replacing the other halfway through the run, showing how these two themes interact. 

Meryl Doney is a freelance fine art curator, specialising in presenting exhibitions in cathedrals, churches, festivals and other challenging spaces. She has curated over 40 exhibitions and performance pieces, including Moon Mirror by Rebecca Horne in St Paul’s Cathedral and Presence: Images of Christ for the Third Millennium, a series of thirteen different exhibitions involving 50 contemporary artists. Between 2006 and 2011 she was Director of Wallspace, a 'spiritual home for visual art' in All-Hallows-on-the-Wall church, in the City of London. In 2015 she was guest curator for CLEY 15, the North Norfolk open-submission exhibition at Cley-next-the-Sea. She serves on the Art Advisory Group for St Paul’s Cathedral, London, England and is a member of the Organizing Committee of the Methodist Collection of Modern Art.

ArtWay Visual Meditation 18 March 2018