The Spectrum Beneath | Azuki Furuya's Layered Artistry


Like water, undulating lines and vivid colors float on the canvas, appearing and disappearing. At first glance, the abstract image may seem mysterious, but as one follows the lines, the scene gradually takes shape.

Azuki Furuya, a mixed-media artist who studied art in Tokyo and New York, delves into layers of paper material and uses sanding techniques to reveal inner depths, creating unforgettable impressions. Through years of experimentation, Furuya's artwork reveals the secrets behind its creation process.

Approach the Process in the Interview Video

Azuki Furuya : Sacred Contours, Whitestone Ginza New Gallery


Everything Starts with Drawing for Azuki Furuya

Furuya's creative process, involving collage, sanding, painting, and various media, begins with meticulous drawing. These drawings serve as blueprints, encapsulating all the elements necessary for creation, including the characteristic flowing lines and colors of Furuya's work.

Drawing for "Selfie," a work of the artist herself taking a selfie.

Layers of Overlapping Colors

Furuya, drawn to the appearance and texture of paper, meticulously cuts and layers paper to create collages. Layering original drawings, she carefully arranges eight sheets of paper one at a time.

Paper parts cut based on the original drawing.

Layering one sheet at a time precisely is no easy task, but the slight deviations during gluing create a beauty of randomness, adding depth to the flowing lines.

Gluing cut paper parts onto the panel, one by one.

Uncovering Color Treasures

Amidst the high-pitched machine noises and swirling paper dust, Furuya's favorite part of the process is sanding. Gradually, layers of stacked paper are sanded away to reveal their colors. The irregularly exposed color layers showcase the unique texture of the paper, engaging viewers with a tangible material presence.

Sanding process in action.

"My favorite part is definitely sanding. It's like discovering something precious. But the most challenging part is cutting and pasting the paper. When the layers of color I envisioned are revealed after sanding, I feel it was all worth it. That's why I always consider how much to sand to achieve the desired shape and color."

The rough, gritty texture unique to paper is evident from the irregularly exposed layers of color. This tangible materiality, unachievable with paint alone, directly engages the viewer.

Seeking Ideal Colors

Coating sanded paper layers with oil paint.

Experimenting with different techniques, Furuya finally settles on a style, adding depth to the screen with oil paints. Amidst various paint types, Furuya chooses the most common, oil paint, to finish the artwork.

The process of finishing with oil paints.

The act of layering colors is not just a method for Furuya, but a fundamental purpose in engaging with art. Removing layers of color and combining different paints to create unique colors allows Furuya to discover truths in the timeless combinations.

Narratives of Women's Lives in Artworks

Living in New York provided the artist, who hails from Hokkaido, with an excellent opportunity to reflect on their own country's culture from a foreign perspective. During this time, Furuya became intrigued by the figure of the Japanese 'Yujo' or courtesan. Motivated by a desire to depict both the glamorous facade and the harsh reality of these real-life courtesans, Furuya created numerous works featuring them as motifs while in New York.

Azuki Furuya 《Procession of Courtesans》

After returning to Japan, Furuya's gaze remains focused on women at her debut solo exhibition, 'Sacred Contours'. Drawing from the history where courtesans once held the role of priestesses, Furuya portrays a spectrum ranging from goddesses and characters from famous paintings to contemporary female figures.

Through paintings and photographs, the artwork narrates the transformation of female representations that have permeated society, reflecting the changes over time. Particularly in this exhibition, emphasis is placed on depicting nudes, as Furuya pays homage to this tradition while infusing it with her unique perspective.

Sacred Contours

Azuki Furuya 《Hetaira, Rising from the Sea》2024, 91.0×65.2cm, Acrylic, oil and mixed media on board.


Explore Azuki Furuya's Artwork

Azuki Furuya : Sacred Contours, Whitestone Ginza New Gallery


After completing a piece, Furuya uses leftover cut paper and sanding debris to create new artworks. Named the "Ash Series," these artworks symbolize the cycle of creation, where remnants of artwork creation are transmuted into new pieces.

The perpetual physicality displayed in the artwork and the cycle of transformation into other artworks elevate Furuya's pieces to uniqueness.


The Whitestone Ginza New Gallery presents Azuki Furuya's solo exhibition "Sacred Contours" from May 31st to June 22nd, 2024. Experience the diffusion of bodily contours through Furuya's artwork.

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