Take one look at the artwork of Naoe Suzuki (MCC Drawing Fellow ’06) and you’ll see evidence of a person deeply committed to drawing. Her art brings to light the complex emotions humans have in relation to animals. Her latest series depicts the relationship between a woman and the tigers in her life. We asked her to briefly step away from the tigers that occupy her recent work and to share with us some thoughts about her art.
What is the allure to draw on white paper? “I’ve been thinking about this lately, actually about the negative space I leave on white paper. I used to create scenes with cut out figures when I was a child. I cut illustrated figures of Japanese people of Edo period, and I laid these characters and objects underneath a thick clear plastic sheet on my desk. Almost every night, I would change their placement. This memory keeps popping up in my head when I’m working in the studio. It’s similar to what I’m doing with my figures/objects on paper. I pay a lot of attention to space between them. I like to give them a lot of space around them, so that these figures and objects float in space. I also studied dance when I was at college, and dancing has been an important part of my life. Maybe subconsciously I’m giving them enough space to move around on white paper.”
Talk about Mi Tigre, My Lover. “This series is inspired by a life of Mabel Stark, a renowned female tiger trainer for circus in the early 1900s. Mabel survived many severe mauling by her tigers but kept going back to the tiger cage. I was thinking about “being captive” and their love/power relationship. Tigers were the ones kept in the cage and obvious captives, but I thought Mabel was also a captive by her tigers. Her life was consumed by her love and obsession for tigers.”
What do you hope people feel when looking at your work? “In Mi Tigre, My Lover, there’s a complex play of love and power between a woman and her tiger. I hope people feel some sort of tension in the space between a woman and her tiger—obsession, control, submission, passion, desire, whatever that is.”
Tell us a little bit about what’s next for you. “An idea for my next project just bubbled up in my head two days ago when I was driving back from Adirondack after spending four days at the Blue Mountain Center. It’s at the very early stage and I don’t have much to say, except it will be something to do with dead computers. And I’m also thinking about different way in approaching triptych.”
Mi Tigre, My Lover
September 7 – October 1, 2010
Opening Reception: September 16, 5-7pm
Sarah Doyle Gallery, Brown University, 26 Benevolent Street, Providence, RI
Limited edition prints from this exhibition will be available on Art+Culture Editions.
Image credit: All images by Naoe Suzuki. From top to bottom: Come Little Girl Come (detail); Come Little Girl Come; My Tigre, My Lover (detail); My Tigre, My Lover (detail); My Tigre, My Lover (detail); My Tigre, My Lover.