Xavier Hufkens is delighted to present Japanese artist Ulala Imai’s first exhibition with the gallery, titled MEMORY. Ulala Imai, a third-generation artist in her family, is known for her paintings in which everyday objects are transformed into enigmatic scenes charged with a sense of intimacy. Her use of popular culture iconography, which she depicts across a variety of genres such as — still life, portraiture, landscape, historic and narrative painting — distinguishes her unique body of work.
MEMORY includes a new series of paintings, populated by a revolving cast of characters, many of whom she has been painting for years. “I do not possess the ability to imagine a fictitious world. The first stage of creation begins with a proper motif,” says Imai. In search of the motifs, Imai turns to her everyday life, which allows “the motifs themselves to be understood as an autobiography.” Always having worked from home, and in close proximity to her father, husband and children, her domestic milieu serves as the primary source of inspiration. Still-life abounds with a focus on day-to-day objects in a household: the melting butter on a piece of toast in the kitchen; fruits and flowers picked from the garden; stuffed toys and figurines left behind by her children. For Imai, these objects found in the every day are akin to proxies or avatars that become visual manifestations of human emotions and complexities through which she communicates with the world.