Mizuki Nishiyama is a London-based, mixed-Japanese artist, who creates raw, vivid and multifaceted paintings that explore the fragile human condition.
With her intercultural background, Nishiyama draws inspiration from the East and West, bridging her Hong Kong, Japanese, and Italian cultural heritages.
Embracing deeply personal experiences to craft each artwork: the artist’s ongoing relationship with anxiety and trauma has greatly influenced her practice, and has fuelled her to confront vulnerability, fragility of the human condition. Painting is a chaotic yet meditative process for Nishiyama that allows her to make sense of the more tempestuous periods in life. Nishiyama holds a Masters of Fine Arts degree from Central Saint Martins, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Parsons School of Design. Her solo exhibitions include Shunga (2020) at Whitestone Gallery Hong Kong, An Exploration of Human Fragility: Love & Lust (2020) at the Tenri Cultural Institute of New York, and 脆い Moroi: An Exploration of Human Fragility (2019) at Greenpoint Gallery, New York.
Mizuki Nishiyama, Sitting, Waiting, 2021
Oil on Canvas
180 cm (h) x 120 cm (w)
An interrogation into the liberation and constriction as a mixed Japanese female. Varnished with a chaotic wash of crimson red, the painting depicts a coy yet inviting figure seated in the traditional Japanese 正座 Seiza position. Legs folded, palms modestly faced down; the fortifying position brings forth a modern language within traditional Japanese history, gender politics, and contemporary Japanese society.
Mizuki Nishiyama, Tatami Burns, 2022
Oil on Canvas
51 cm (h) x 40 cm (w)
Bridging the organic nature that nourishes my emotional association with my Japanese heritage, in conjunction with the erotic and ardent nature within confronting femininity. The tatami mat is a traditional flooring material in Japanese-style rooms made of rush and cloth. When woven tightly, it is smooth. Yet the raw organic material, is harsh and dry against the skin, mimicking the essence of comfort and pain, as well as touching upon the tumultuous nature of humanity and impassioned experiences.
Mizuki Nishiyama, Eros in Between, 2022
Oil on Canvas
70 cm (h) x 50 cm (w)
Inspired by Anne Carson’s writings, Eros in Between explores how desire is at the core of being human. Looking at the complexities of desire, consciousness, vulnerability, and how it resonates with George Bataille’s Death and Eroticism. The fine line between vitality, lust, love, death, and urgency is where humanity lies.
Mizuki Nishiyama, Kami, 2022
Mixed Media Tapestry
183 cm (h) x 122 cm (w)
Kami represents God or a Deity in Shinto Japan. Focusing on materiality and the process of life and death through burning, soaking, and embroidery to transgress and remould the representation of the identity as a mixed Japanese female artist. Violence and tranquillity are themes within Japanese values and history that my works dive into. The extremity is reflected within the process in which textiles are burned (death), and buried in my paternal land’s soil; where my military ancestors have been continuously buried till today since the 1400s (representing a very patriarchal and timeless substance); the soil evokes closure, then allowing rainwater in London to wash away the sediments (a feminine wash of “God” and the higher sky to “rinse” the soil), followed by soaking the fabrics in Japanese teas (nourishment), and finally using Sashiko (a traditional Japanese embroidery method) to abstractedly patchwork the textiles back together. Menstruating women are banned from touching the 道場 Dojo; the platform Sumos or martial art practices are wrestled on. The platform is blessed by the 神 Kami, noting that the ring holds the essence of masculine physicality. Women are deemed “impure” by the process of menstruating, evading the fact that the bodies also represent life and fertility. The feminine body has historically been torn into dichotomies of beauty and brute. The violence of menstruating, shedding, and reproducing; in conjunction with the fertility and humanity, the feminine body is organically connected. As a female artist, I reclaim. By burning, commencing death, followed by nurturing, and completing the experience with laborious stitch work; I repurpose and reconstruct what it means to be a modern Japanese woman.
Mizuki Nishiyama, Sorei, 2022
Mixed Media Tapestry
180 (h) cm x 110 cm (w)
Recontextualising what it means to be a modern Japanese woman through materiality. Sorei translates to “spirits of ancestors” in Japanese. Exploring Japanese philosophies, materiality, and feminine theories through a reconstruction of materials utilising Japanese Boro (traditional peasantry weaving), and Sashiko (traditional embroidery) methods. The tapestry ponders a poetic blend between concepts regarding destruction and reconstruction. I burn burlap, linen, cotton, synthetic ﬁbres, and denim, distress the fabrics, and natural dye each piece in wet ash, my paternal land soil, and a selection of Japanese teas before weaving the pieces of fabric back together with needle and thread.