The still, slightly eerie beauties in Akiko Ijichi‘s watercolors participate in a sinister serenity. Their direct but almost unseeing, melancholy, red-lidded gaze has a silent languor, a breath of the simultaneously sterile and erotic; grim passion. The theme of her work is antinomy, the contradiction and struggle between opposites, life and death, evil and holiness, happiness and lament. Ijichi uses traditional nihonga techniques to achieve a clarity and lightness of effect emphasizing the opalescent pallor of the girls depicted, the delicacy of the flowers with which they are surrounded and garlanded. It has an intermittent sparkle or scintillating quality, as if dusted with gold powder, due to the crushed mineral pigments used in her painting.
The marriage of traditional techniques with the modern aspect of the subjects, whom she describes as like shrine maidens, creates an interesting juxtaposition. These palely luminescent beings seem to be giving up their humanity or exchanging childhood innocence, the path of the straight and narrow, or some such unimpeachable condition of life, for the bittersweetness of darker dreams, fairy tales gone wrong. Wolf-girls, flower-girls, butterfly-girls, their pearl-sheened skin tinted with rosy hues is in the embrace of death, turning them into beautiful memento mori, portents of deathlike change.
Two posters and a monograph of her work are currently available on AkaTako.