Atsuko Ishii Engraves Her Playful Vision of the World in Etchings

Through her etchings, Atsuko Ishii produces dreamlike pieces that present a somewhat distorted version of reality.


WordsLou Tsatsas

© Atsuko Ishii

Atsuko Ishii‘s coloured etchings can be seen as delicate enigmas. Female figures, allusions to childhood, landscapes, and architectural elements come together in her engravings and present distorted fragments of current affairs and reality, ‘because I play with them’, she explains.

Born in Osaka in 1970, the artist now lives in Paris. ‘I left Japan in 1995, after experiencing the Kobe earthquake. I changed continent, and my life changed too, because I wasn’t working in the art world at the time’, she explains. From her life in Japan, she has retained a love of empty space and silence, ‘and thanks to France, I learnt to be a little wild’, she laughs.


Personal Reality Show

When creating her pieces, Atsuko Ishii very rarely draws, and considers her copper plate as a sheet of paper. She varnishes it, then attacks the thin layer to create detailed motifs, before soaking it in an acid bath. Once cleaned, the plate is coloured, and the artist decorates it using collages, stencils, and goffering. This painstaking work gives rise to delicate, surprising creations.

In her etchings, men’s bodies are as big as aeroplanes, and appear to thwart gravity. Aquatic animals live alongside terrestrial species, and young girls go off to discover the solar system. As if taken straight from a dream, her characters live in a crazy world, as distant as it is familiar. ‘I call my creations my personal reality show. They represent a precise moment, an encounter, a departure’, she explains. Over the years, the artist has taken on various commissions, including illustrating children’s books. She now experiments with other mediums, like fabric, and exhibits her work internationally. ‘With COVID, I have to stay at home, but my etchings travel all over the place’, she declares happily.


Personal Reality Show (2020), a series by Atsuko Ishii, is available for purchase on the Galerie Nathalie Béreau’s website.

© Atsuko Ishii

‘100% Sauvage’, n°10/17, Atsuko Ishii 2020, Galerie Nathalie Béreau

‘A trace of ourselves’, n°9/17, Atsuko Ishii, 2020, Galerie Nathalie Béreau

‘We are free’, n°5/31, Atsuko Ishii, 2020, Galerie Nathalie Béreau

‘A short cut’, n°9/17, Atsuko Ishii, 2020, Galerie Nathalie Béreau

‘Heart beats’, n°6/31, Atsuko Ishii, 2020, Galerie Nathalie Béreau

‘Get the wind’, n°5/51, Atsuko Ishii, 2020, Galerie Nathalie Béreau

‘Mars I and Hula Hooping’, n°11/17, Atsuko Ishii, 2020, Galerie Nathalie Béreau

‘One splash’, n°9/17, Atsuko Ishii, 2020, Galerie Nathalie Béreau

© Atsuko Ishii

© Atsuko Ishii