- Ayane Mikagi Solo Exhibition -

Art Fair Tokyo 2023

2023 3/10 (fri) - 3/12 (sun)

Private view:2023/3/9 (thu) 11:00 - 19:00 (invite only)
Public view: 2023/3/10 (fri)〜3/12(sun) 11:00 - 19:00
Venue: Tokyo International Forum, Hall E and Lobby Gallery
3 Chome-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan

※ Due to our participation in Art Fair Tokyo, our gallery in Tokyo will be temporarily closed during the fair dates.
Thank you very much for your kind understanding.



I first met the Japanese painter Ayane Mikagi in early April 2015. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom throughout the streets of Tokyo, yet the warmth of Spring had not yet awakened from its long winter slumber. Mikagi was 27, and had just recently graduated from the Tama Art University, her dream school which took the artist 5 years to be accepted into (both Mikagi’s endurance and perseverance are legendary). There, at a school festival, Mikagi had befriended a young Yufuku Gallery intern named Mio Yamamoto, who was taken by the work of Mikagi at the festival, and would go on to introduce me to the artist during her brief stint at my gallery.


My gallery at the time was comprised mostly of sculptural artists in ceramics, glass and metal, and the only painter that I had been working with since 2007 was Takafumi Asakura, coincidentally also a Tama Art University alumnus who had quickly garnered prominence both within and outside of Japan for his ambitious black ink screens on aluminium leaf. I had always wanted to expand the scope of my gallery to artists of a multitude of genres who resonated with me on a personal level, and I also desired to meet up-and-coming painters who shared a similar aesthetic and way of thinking. Ayane Mikagi was one such artist.


At once I was captivated by her sense of beauty – her wild floral motifs, her vivid, perhaps even audacious use of colours, her decorative style that called to mind the aesthetics of Klimt and Hundertwasserhaus. But Mikagi’s works at the time were predominantly figurative, comprised mostly of portraits of her friends or of herself, and were too twee or slightly sentimental for my tastes.


But I also sensed that there was something more to her, a wish to paint subjects far richer and more complex, and this desire was embodied in some of the larger, more abstract works that she had been painting during her school years, perhaps most evident in the work aptly entitled Premonition  (2013). Premonition was a bubbling, pulsating, almost dreamlike work in Mikagi’s distinct pastels in pinks, blues and yellows within a sea of black, and it was almost psychedelic in its hazy, technicolour ambiance. And so I asked the artist, upon meeting her, whether she would be painting more works in abstraction.

Premonition (2013)
Japanese pigments on Japanese paper
H163 x W163 cm

“I’ve been told since my school days that abstract works in Nihonga do not sell, and that the market only accepts figurative. So I’ve given up on painting abstract for the time being,” said the artist nonchalantly, as if she was speaking an irreversible truth. And so I said to her, “Well, then, can you please paint abstract works for me?”


Ever since, Mikagi has become one of the most popular and emblematic painters in our roster, with elegantly moon-lit scenes evident in her Moon Sounds  series, her grand floral landscapes of Our Secret Garden and Flowers in the Mist series, and most recently, her current style that melds the figurative with the abstract in not so much as a compromise of aesthetics but an amplified amalgamation of her vision, which first came to the fore in her seminal work Perception Key  of 2020. Almost as if unlocking the constraints to her mind’s eye, the artist is shifting to finding the middle ground between the movements of the abstract and the decorative floral patterns she has always embraced, and with this style, Mikagi has found a voice that is distinctly and unequivocally hers.

Moon Sounds (2016)
Japanese pigments on Japanese paper
H65.2 x W80.3 cm
perception key (2020)
Japanese pigments on Japanese paper
H53 x W45.5 cm

How fitting, then, to think that this “unlocking” of her current aesthetic had begun from a work with a “Key” for its title. Mikagi’s surname, in fact, is comprised of the characters Mi (Three) and Kagi (Keys), a rare name with less than five households named Mikagi in all of Japan. In fact, it has been the Mikagi family who for centuries protected the Yata no Kagami Sacred Mirror, one of the three Imperial Regalia of Japan, on behalf of the Emperor and the Imperial line. Tradition runs deep in the Mikagi family, and with her current style of work, Mikagi has ventured to break and transcend the staid traditions of Nihonga for brand new vistas never-before-seen in the realm of Japanese painting.


Art Fair Tokyo 2023 marks Ayane Mikagi’s very first solo exhibition at A Lighthouse called Kanata, featuring approx. 6 to 8 new works painted especially for Art Fair Tokyo. The works, all painted using traditional Japanese minerals and pigments called iwa-enogu that have been applied on Japanese hand-made washi paper, burst with colour, vivacity and imagination, highlighting the artist working at the height of her abilities. Ayane Mikagi has poured her very being into the completion of these works, and her growing confidence and skill with the brush are fully evident within these new paintings. We hope you will agree.


All of us at A Lighthouse called Kanata sincerely look forward to welcoming you to our stand S017 at Art Fair Tokyo this March and presenting to you the lusciously luminous world of Ayane Mikagi.


From eastern skies,


Wahei Aoyama


A Lighthouse called Kanata

Hiding in the Thorns (2021)
Japanese pigments on Japanese paper
H116.7 x W80.3 cm

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