About the Japanese/Mexican series

"We find ourselves in the moment of transit where space and time cross to produce complex figures of difference and identity, past and present, inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion…a sense of disorientation, a disturbance of direction"

(Homi Bhabha)

The selected paintings I am presenting were created by-and- large in Tokyo, Japan, prior to my return to the Netherlands on March 2004. The work reflects my experience as a foreign artist in Japan's cultural environment.
The work deals with the individual's place in society, with questions of identity and cultural affiliation.
A central theme in the work is the place of the other, the foreigner and the displaced in society, and to what extent one can relate to a cultural environment that is not 'naturally' his own. In many of the works, I have chosen as a departure platform, images that are strongly affiliated with the Japanese cultural identity; images of Japanese gardens or traditional architectural design and confronted them with my emotional structure and cultural paradigm, examining both the similarities and the conflicts. The confrontation with visual spaces that obey aesthetic rules which are foreign to me forces me to struggle and create 'third' spaces that will echo both the foreign cultural dogma and my own. The 'zone' of cultural encounter, its conflicts, its hybrid creations, its beautiful and monstrous mutants, is the zone where I act in and try to advocate with my work.

The wish to 'touch' reality and to communicate with my surroundings leads me to concentrate my research on objects of canonized nature, local 'Eiffel-Towers'. Reacting on these towers, mimicking them, damaging them, and offering my personal alternative to them, allows me to examine the friction between the personal and the public. At times I feel as a Graffiti punk, spraying paint on cultural walls, painting a mustaches on iconic portraits, on local Mona Lisa faces.

My objective is not to supply an impressionistic image of reality but to promote my subjective vision of it as a legitimate option, a social and a political act that argues for the voice of the 'Other' and for cultural diversity.

"The rediscovery of difference as general phenomenon within culture has once again transformed everyone into 'other'"

(Gavin Jantjes)

The encounter with conflicting cultural tendencies and the 'parallel' truth that they propose led me to the repetitive use of mirrors in my work. The alternative space that mirrors offer, enabled me to express the arbitrary perception of reality and the random like choice that one makes between the virtual and the actual. At other occasions I have split the painting surfaces into two alternative landscapes, multiplied vanishing points or simply applied two alternative moons, suggesting the labyrinthal nature of cultural dogmas and the fragile hold that one has on 'reality'. Another tool that replicates the use of mirrors is the use of Buster Keaton's image as a 'hired actor', an actor who performs different scenes from my personal life, a 'mirror' image, an Alter Ego.

Robbing others' features to paint the self, applying humour to portray pain, using the past to reflect the present, appropriating cultural icons as souvenirs and assembling it all to a coherent image of incoherency, that reflects my vision of the contemporary 'global' reality.

By Amitai Ben David.
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