Tuesday, June 18, 2019


New Orleans belongs to whoever embraces its spirit and becomes a permanent resident - body and soul so to speak. Kahori Maeyama is one of these transplants ensconced in the heart of the city, enriching its cultural diversity. The visual artist born and raised in Japan, moved to the United States in 1994 and obtained a BA in film production from the University of New Orleans and a MFA in painting from Tulane University. As a member of the collective and gallery Staple Goods, she produces annually a show of her work which can also be seen at various venues during the year.

A feeling of doom assails the visitor surrounded by the seven recent paintings included in the exhibition titled Subaquatic Homesick Blues. Over time, Mayeama has developed a distinguishable, very personal style to render somber scenes, featuring iconic New Orleans urban landscapes for this show. The artist describes the process, starting with several layers of paint applied on the canvas to build the background. The following sessions are dedicated to painting the subject itself.  Switching brushes for brayers, she masters the technique which allows her to project an aura of surreality to the cityscapes. One by one, the paintings reflect an empty ghostly world inhabited by anthropomorphic houses with windows deep like eye sockets and doors waiting to swallow the passerby.
On the build-up backgrounds, shadowy images are laid off-center sometimes (Blue Highway II: Blue Sky Blue, 2019 or Blue, 2018), leaving space for an infinite midnight blue sky above, or like oppressive masses occupy the whole foreground (Subaquatic Homesick Blues, 2019, Relativity Twice, 2019). The quiet paintings project an eerie feeling of impending doom due to the threat of rising waters. They also allude to the abandonment of neighborhoods left with silent empty streets, a precursor of decay. A few lights, the only tangible signs of life, glow in the humid, heavy night atmosphere, like the embers of a smoldering fire, glimmers of hope.
The artist catches the quintessence of New Orleans through these urban landscapes and expresses the romantic love we all feel for the fragile city.

photographs by the author:

"Door in the Dark", 2019
"Double Shotgun Double", 2019