The Japanese artist Chika Osaka creates richly populated illustrations on small surfaces in which there is much to discover. They tempt us to step nearer and look more closely: like stage sets, flat spaces hint at a city setting made of bricks and concrete, corrugated iron, tiles and wood, interior spaces are shown with screens and curtains, ceilings and pillows. These spaces are populated almost entirely by female figures in brightly patterned dress. Nature comes into the picture through trees, plants and leaves. The artist achieves an interplay of the traditional and the contemporary through both her subject and technique. Architecture and interior decor, clothing and textile patterns, customs and cuisine from Japan’s differently governed epochs meld into a reflection on the contemporary quotidian of a post-Fukushima society. Chika Osaka’s print works exhibit a profound knowledge of both lithography and the Japanese woodcut tradition and transcend these in a very contemporary manner.

All her lithographs, laser-print collages, paintings, aquatint etchings and woodcuts have telling titles. Most are also accompanied by an additional artist’s text which triggered the pictorial representation. Short narratives allow intimate perspectives into the lives of multiple lyrical, mostly female selves. Insights into the tragedy and comedy written by life. Noted in handwriting by various people, then as silkscreen printed on diverse papers, the texts are a counterpoint to the pictorial depictions. Through the process of printing the manuscript becomes fiction. The humorous and moving texts equally open further space for interpretation, without nonetheless unambiguously explaining the pictures.

Chika Osaka was born in 1984 Tokyo (J), where she studied painting and printmaking at the University of the Arts and where she now lives and works. She has been regularly been exhibiting internationally since 2009 and has received numerous prizes for her prints in particular since 2008, most recently the 2019 Jerwood Printmaking Today Prize awarded by the Jerwood Foundation, London (GB).