KAREN SHIOZAWA: Masquerade of Light


2023.08.26 - 09.16


"Life is a masquerade."

In a fleeting glimmer of light, he puts on a mask, and when the bell rings to signal the end of his dream, he takes off the mask. And then he takes another mask in his hand as he walks through the world.

Joy, hope, sorrow, passion...The way they dance with illusions under their masks is an opera called "Life".
- Karen Shiozawa

Karen Shiozawa (b.1998) is an up-and-coming artist who has just completed her M.A. in Fine Arts at Tokyo Zokei University. Her childhood experience in the Netherlands is strongly reflected in her work, with a unique spatial perspective, and the contrast of light and dark. To depict a world that can be perceived other than visually, she has sought out representations using elements such as sound and light which appeal directly to the viewer's five senses. Windmills, classical arches, church steeples, and other European architectural elements are featured in her works. She adopts the technique of chiaroscuro, exaggerating the contrast of light and shadows, and in the meantime harmonizes all vivid colors. Shiozawa's work has a rigorous, detailed style - she flaps the paintbrush to apply beautiful hues and then outlines her imagination, and besides, she uses a needle to scratch the base color while painting. After all the delicate processes and the final use of the tapping technique to create a soft light effect, a verisimilar scene appeared in front of viewers.

This exhibition is the artist's wish that viewers will discover the "joy of imagination" through her works. She is offstage today, gazing at the beauty hidden in everyday life; the action metaphors the spotlight shines on the infinite stage of the world, capturing small but yet memorable moments. Each work of Shiozawa's creation has a sense of rhythm that resonates with the inner soul beneath the masks of each and every viewer.



Whitestone Gallery Beijing is pleased to present Karen Shiozawa's first solo exhibition in mainland China, “Masquerade of Light”. The exhibition showcases a series of her latest works that will expand our imagination. The splendid stage that the artist creates will illustrate scenes where dreams and reality are intertwined. The virtual showcase provides a gateway to the artists’ unique viewpoints and sources of inspiration. You’re welcome to immerse yourself in the vibrant masquerade ball, a celebration of radiant hues coming to life through dance.

What's the meaning of the exhibition title "Masquerade of Light"?

This exhibition is embedded with a wish to discover the "Joy of Imagination" through the works, and I believe that people wear masks in their daily life, hiding nostalgic scenes and memories. While enjoying the work, the sight and memories under the sleeping mask are captured by spotlights and begin to shine and dance. I imagine the scene shining like a masquerade.

In a series of works in this solo exhibition, many visual elements of European architecture such as windmills, classical arches, and church steeples - does the use of these visual images have any special meanings for you?

This theme brings me back to my memory greatly.
My work may also have an autobiographical aspect. All works share a root of childhood memories. The marvelous feeling of the distant and nostalgic days is what is common sleeping in inner souls.

From your childhood experience in the Netherlands and now in Japan, how have the cultural and geographical changes influenced your creation?

My childhood experience in the Netherlands has brought to me boundless land, and soft light coming through the clerestory, in conjunction with the chiaroscuro and use of perspective in Western painting. If I were still living in the Netherlands, I’m not sure these experiences would have such an impact on me. It is because the experience of childhood in a foreign country has been imprinted in my memory that it feels like a normal sight. Because I live in Japan and am Japanese, I think in depth about my identity, and I notice the differences between cultures, and become interested in people's emotions in general.


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How do you combine and use different materials in your paintings, such as oil, acrylic, and resin, to bring different brushstrokes and layers to your works? Are there any special considerations depending on the work?

I start with acrylic as the base, and in the meantime I can fully imagine the hazy space, color, and atmosphere at the initial conceptual stage. Then I leave the work for a period of time and come back to it with a clear vision, and layer it with resin, and finish the work with oil paint. It is like putting a lid on a scene from your memory. Little by little, I scratch the oil paints as if punctuating the darkness with light while emphasizing more vivid colors and strengthening the impression. I developed these methods myself, and if I only used oil paint and brush, I would get too close to the work, and I would not be able to create what I imagined. The current method feels like drawing in a notebook which may leave an impression of freedom in the work.

How do you adjust the tones of the work and the hazy feeling? Does it change according to the content of the work or the mood at the time of creation?

I start with a rough draft. In principle, I don't make a thorough plan about the work style before creating them. The state of the paint also changes depending on the temperature and the humidity at the time, therefore the work image changes accordingly as well. Although I may control it according to my experience, I am subservient to the surrounding environment around me most of the time. I often search for the best way to express my work, wandering between the initial imagination and the state of the actual work.

When and how did your nowadays creative style come about?

As mentioned earlier, my thorough understanding of self-identity began in high school. However, I realized that a brush alone on canvas cannot fully express my idea. Once, when I saw a kindergarten kid scribbling crayons all over the paper and then scratched it, I felt such freedom and I thought the colors were very bright and beautiful. It did not become messy due to the overlapping of colors, it was clear and defined because of the scratches. After continuous experimentation, I established the basis of my current style when I went to university, but I still think it is evolving every day.

How do you spend your day in the studio? Do you like to listen to music or something while creating artworks? In addition to creating artworks, do you have any other hobbies?

Painting is a very natural act for me, my home is also my studio and I do this on purpose. I play dramas in various languages from different countries in my room, and I often play music while creating and completing the artwork. I like to watch foreign dramas and read books, but I can't read books during the process of creation, so the information I hear would trigger my emotions. I t’s easier for me to work in a lively space because it calms me, and in the mix of various information unexpected ideas appear. In the studio, it’s a continuous flow of output and input.

Whitestone Gallery Beijing will present your first solo exhibition in mainland China. Do you think that the exhibition location (or space) has any influence on the theme of the exhibition or your creation?

Whitestone Gallery Beijing space appears after passing a narrow corridor. I was impressed by the gallery space when I conceived the exhibition theme. The sight of light coming through the darkness also influenced the exhibition conception and the work presentation.
Also, this is my first time visiting Beijing, and I am interested in Chinese architecture and decorative culture before I decided to hold a solo exhibition. Since ancient times, the beauty of art and nature is intrinsically linked to daily life, especially the colorful and detailed carvings, and embroidery, which also influenced the theme of this exhibition.


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KAREN SHIOZAWA: Masquerade of Light
2023.08.26 – 09.16


Sevenstar Street (E.), 798 Art District, No.4 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100015, China
Tel: +86 10 59920796
Opening Hours: 11:00 - 18:00
Closed: Sunday, Monday
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