YAMAGUCHI. Ai. IN HER WORKS such as "Toge-no-Ochayaij," expresses the girls who live their lives as prostitutes and wait on the men in yukakuij, the red-light district. She draws the girls into the works using the original supports of hers and clear colors. There lie both fuzoku( ) customs those days in the Edo-periodij, and her own eroticism, which makes the viewer feel strange.
She draws the world of yukaku, which has been sensitively designed from her own creation, based on the consideration into early times in Japan.
The way she introduces into her works is used quite differently or variously, and some of the works have the realistic world those days (such as a series of "Toge-no-Seikatsuij," on which she draws the real lives of the girls as prostitutes), while the others have Yamaguchi's imaginary world (such as a series of "Kinu-Ginuij," on which you can imagine that the girls are reflected into the patterns on kimono), and a series of "Kami-samaij," on which the girls are posing similar to the likes of the Buddha sitting in his trademarks position). These pluralistic kinds of worlds are clearly drawn definitely as a parallel world or a mixed view, making us inspired into the various expansions each work has.

The motive that consists of Yamaguchi's world is mainly based on a fine art in modern times during the Edo-period, from the latter days of 17t7h to 18th century in Japan. But it is also from her own point of view that the world has been constructed due to her creatively catching the quality of a flatij. The expression of the figures being put into the clothes, for example, is not only two dimensional, but also, the sands coated in Karesansuiij
are a flat type picture which is drawn with the line emphasized and the colors and shapes distorted as well. To the contrary, she allows the figures to touch the golden cloud, Kin-unij, and to crawl into it, as if the clouds truly existed there. Of course, there is no doubt that all of these characteristics eventually end up to the Japanese way of painting, that is, "flat" form. But this harmonized expression between two and three dimensions, into which Yamaguchi inspires her own comprehension, is free from a sort of limitation, where the viewer can not realize a boundary line between them.
While Yamaguchi expressed the works in such a fashion, there are in fact many kinds of three-dimensional bodies as her own supports, including a canvas which looks like a futonij and an okeij.
Introducing these solid items into her works surely transforms the works themselves to the reality or the sense of existence and depth as an existing "object." As a result, it is certain that, in her works, there seems to be a sense of bijingaij in the ukiyoeij prints of the Edo-period, shobyougaij, and industrial arts and so on.
Yamaguchi has rather created a particular appearance or charm that can not clearly be classified in any category but its own. This happens to result from the fact that she has a theme of her own view of the world by gracefully using her imaginary thoughts and her concrete forms or supports for the viewer to enjoy and appreciate.

The young girls, in a series of her works, bare childlike bodies, and many of them show an appearance of uneasiness. They are somehow absorbed in their dreams, taking a fancy to the objects in front of them and to their parents; nevertheless, once in a while, staring at you aggressively. You might view each pose as either of a natural attitude or an obstinate intention that has some kind of strength.
Whether they are wearing clothes or not, it seems to us that the girls are always either "ignorant" of their present situation they are put into or don't realize who or where they are now. All the more for the appearance, however, there is just only their emotional matters emphasized, and there must be something that has the power to appeal to us. At the same time, you come face to face with an unforgettable element: the eroticism. The characters, which are born as the reflections of Yamaguchi herself, make us feel the strong impression by their flesh itself.
On the other hand, it seems to be quite far from the vivid kind of description of an ordinary eroticism about the girls. It might be because there is a sort of story told with their backgrounds, which is full of what it is more than we have ever expected. There is also the tendency for you to view a series of works or two sequences through Yamaguchi's art. This might be because the stories of the girls are absolutely described much more according to the succession among two or three scenes or the related matter of each subject.

Now, the contemporary arts see a crossing point between the matter of a quality of flat, which has been brought up in Japanese fine arts, and that of sub-cultures. It is in a sense true that her way of the painting lies on the expanded line between the two matters. And it is also so often mentioned that Yamaguchi has been directly influenced by the way of many animations and cartoons judging from the characteristics of her drawings.
It would be much more certain, however, that "a girl," who in herself has been naturally obliged to grow up surrounded by many sub-cultures today, has sensitively reacted to the present Japanese fine arts as well as those in the Edo-period. In the fact that she projects the girls directly onto a scene all through her sense, those kinds of appearances (e.g. a girl who becomes as small as they can be put into a vase: a girl who is playing with flower birds: a girl who is posing in the decorations on a statue of the Buddha, etc) must be created.
And also there seemingly remains any Japanese culture, which has a beautiful description, what is called "mitateij" in Japanese fine art. These sensitivities are symbolized here and there, for instance, not only through using Japanese words (e.g. Kana and Kanji in themselves, which she has especially be- en particular about) but also impressively inputting titles or phrases on her works with archaic Japanese words and words coined by herself.
Therefore, you cannot help realizing right now: the figure of the girls, who are the means for her releasing herself, plays a subtle role, harmonized with the world coming through the sense of Yamaguchi. At the same time, there must be the strength in the works completely created at a high level. It is the power that Yamaguchi has justified in her creation.

(text by Y.nitta/translated by Hayato KAWAI June. 2002)

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"Toge-no-Ochaya"
: translated into "A Brothel in a Mountain Pass".

yukaku
: red-light districts or the kind of buildings in the Edo-period in Japan, where many women or girls as prostitutes waited on the men those days.

fuzoku
: an expression which means customs or manners as a whole, and , especially in Japan, the sexual culture in general.

the Edo-period
: a historical name, which is a time over two hundreds years from the early 17th to the middle of 19th in Japan.

"Toge-no-Seikatsu"
: translated into "The Lives in a Mountain Pass".

"Kinu-Ginu"
: means that two persons (a man and a woman) who have made love through the night part from each other at dawn, exchanging their kimono or clothes. In this series of " Kinu-Ginu," Yamaguchi tries to express the girls whose appearances are filled with sorrow and sadness for the farewell, and these emotional matters are projected into one of the pictures, for example, "a figure which is reflected into the patterns on the kimono of a man.".

"Kami-sama"
: means God or Buddha in general, but in her works, "not having anything to a particular meaning of a religion ," Yamaguchi says.

the quality of flat
: a style of the Japanese paintings, which has smooth and level paintings without any hollow or shadow, made by just the line, which is often seen in ukiyoe.

Karesansui
: a type of Japanese garden, where rocks are mainly built surrounded by white sands which are used as a metaphor meaning water around mountains.

Kin-un
: a painting style like the (golden) clouds, often painted in Japanese fine arts not only as symbols of the "time axis," but as a visual decoration on works as well.

a futon canvas (named by Yamaguchi)
: one of the supports she so often uses in the works as a canvas for painting, which is based on a thick clothe and made of a blanket or cotton cloth attached to a panel.

oke
: a pail in general, which is made of wood or sliced board, and Yamaguchi often uses as a medium for expressing herself.

bijinga
: a type of picture, especially in the ukiyoe tradition, which portrays the beauty of women.

ukiyoe
: a style of painting which was popular those days in the latter days of the Edo-period, made by a woodblock print.

shoubyouga
: a general term or compound word of "byoubue(=a painting on a folding screen)" and "shouhekiga(=paintings on the interiors such as the fusuma: a thick paper sliding door in Japan, ceilings, walls and so on)".

mitate
: a kind of metaphorical way, which is generally
used in Japanese fine arts, especially in ukiyoe, is a way of describing something by comparing it to something else that has similar qualities.