Fuco Ueda Essays

Essays from the Fuco Ueda "Lucid Dream" books

"The Snouters: Form and Life of Fuco's Rhinogrades" Aquirax Uno
Fantasy worlds with a strange sense of loneliness have probably been a theme of Fuco Ueda's work ever since she started painting. About ten years ago, I received a book from her called "Bau und Leben der Rhinogradentia (The Snouters: Form and Life of the Rhinogrades)", which documented animals inhabiting an island in the Pacific Ocean that walked on their noses. Owing to the fact that they stood on their noses, they supposedly used their forelimbs to hold objects or catch prey.

A Swede who escaped from a Japanese prison camp apparently made his way to the island and discovered these animals during World War II. They were later documented in the book, ostensibly by a German naturalist named Harald Stümpke, which described several related species in scholarly detail, complete with illustrations labeled with Latin names. However, you can no longer see the creatures today because the island submerged under the sea around the middle of the twentieth century as a result of underground nuclear testing.

After reading the book, I was reminded of a short-short story that I had read by Shinichi Hoshi, in which someone kisses an alien that has come to earth. The alien, however, was a nose-walker, and although the part of its body being kissed looked like lips, it was actually the alien's anus. What I'm getting at is that, while I was casually reading the book about the Rhinogrades as just another entertaining, nonsensical short story like Hoshi's, Fuco Ueda was actually incorporating these creatures into her paintings. These purely fictional critters were a motif that Fuco Ueda wanted to make a reality. Come to think of it, bizarre creatures that are nonsensical and yet seem real are very much Fuco Ueda's style.

I am afraid I missed out on joining Ueda as a member of the Rhinograde fan club. I would, however, very much like to be a member of the Fuco Ueda fan club, as I will always be fascinated by the bizarre creatures she paints and her tense, yet relaxed scenes depicting the coupling of these alien worlds with ours.

"Dreams of Young Women Attaining Holiness" Takato Yamamoto
In the midst of a vast expanse of blue, the bodies of young women with honey-colored skin float aimlessly this way and that. The women floating in this ocean of forgotten memories have vacant eyes, but their playful behavior is decidedly deliberate. As if in reply to the affected behavior of the young women who dominate this blue, high-saccharin space, moray eels and octopuses stripped of any trace of grotesqueness cling to the women's bodies. Between them there appears to exist a bizarre and mysterious intimacy and some kind of special, inescapable relationship. A tinge of violence and affection springs off the canvas, as if to say that unconditional recognition and acceptance of the other's presence means to engage in mutual corrosion. Combining the rounded morphology of the animals with a toy-like texture, the canvas tells a greater, allegorical story. The mischievous, somehow ceremonial mannerisms of the young women--who seem confident they will be made holy in this space where they appear to have the promise of eternity--are affectedly sadistic, and are cute in the extreme.

The space that the women inhabit is a little like the sort of shift from normal time and space that you can experience when over-stimulated in ordinary life. Who are these women who strut around this daydream-like world, with its diffusely reflected dazzling light, and become involved or entangled with the likes of deer, turtles, and goldfish? The women depicted in these paintings are presumably not just toys the painter uses to escape everyday life. They are rather, I believe, beings strategically created by the painter in trying to deal with the world around her in a positive way, for the purpose of portraying the complex, intermingling facets of her inner self. The painter's ideas become like strangely protruding sensory organs that form the young women's limbs and grow like their hair. Her fingertips, that know fully well that the dream world is a part of what makes up reality, scoop up the honey that the dream exudes, and use its sweet smell to entice the observer into the dream.

About a decade ago, Fuco Ueda--who was a student at the time--came to my attention as a precocious artist who already had a clear idea of the direction she was headed. The expressive world of this young woman who painted truly dream-like images became a spore, wafting along and nestling gently into the realities we had built up from our ideas, and germinating there. Over time, these dreams of young women who assume an increasingly holy aura have become deeper, until there is no awakening. Steeped in their sweet, blue, reflected light, they will continue to proliferate.

"Touching Dreams" Fuco Ueda
The word "lucid" means clear, reasoned, conscious, or sane, and a "lucid dream" is a dream that you are conscious you are having. Even though you realize it's a dream, you continue dreaming. However, if everything in the dream pans out according to your will, the result would be little different from daydreaming. The fascinating thing about lucid dreams is that even though you have some conscious control over your own dream, you are also inundated by images far in excess of your imagination. Therefore, someone experiencing a lucid dream wants to stay as long as possible in that dream world.

I gave the name "LUCID DREAM" to my collection of paintings because my work is similar to a lucid dream. It bestows the joy of being carried away by a flood of images, and at those moments, you get the feeling that you can come infinitely close to places that are not to be found anywhere.

However, lucid dreams are extremely fragile and easily broken. Like carrying eggs, having a lucid dream is a very delicate matter--if you don't control your consciousness carefully, you wake up immediately. They say there's a special technique for returning to a lucid dream when you feel like you're about to wake up. You are supposed to 'touch' something close to you in the dream. When I learned about this, I felt the sensation of 'touching' something well up within my hand. It may be that when I paint I'm 'touching' my dream world with the tip of my paintbrush. When I touch a lucid dream, it expands quickly, and as I look back, before I know it, the place I was before falls away, like a small, dark hole in the sky of the dream world. In this way, the paint on my brush takes me to the ends of the world.