The sublime warmth of subtlety.

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The sublime warmth of subtlety.

Five years ago, Asa Hiramatsu first put brush to palette to narrate rich scenes in layers of paint. Her experience from design firms and Ginza galleries has helped her develop a unique sense of composition and color, which she brings to life through her medium.

“I layer paints for three-dimensionality. Then, I polish the top layer with dry paper, giving the painting a rough texture. I feel the painting should simultaneously be two and three dimensional. These layers express what I was thinking and feeling while painting.”

Hiramatsu prefers to paint on plywood or flooring materials over the traditional canvas and doesn’t frame most of her work. The three-dimensional qualities make her paintings come to life from all angles. Viewing her paintings from the side reveals a new dimension of her work, showing the scatter and the movement in its three dimensionality.

“When a painting is framed new spaces and borders appear, hiding the thickness and texture of the piece. I like to see a painting organically melt into familiar space.”

As a student, she aspired to become a curator. Every exhibit offered her an opportunity to see art up close. Sometimes a piece would so enchant her that she would find herself staring at it for hours, looking deep to see what kind of secrets it would give up.

“Since I was a child, art has fascinated me. My mother and I would set the table, choosing the right dishes to match the utensils that would also match the food we were eating. This was where it started. Mother charged me with setting the table. We had this lacquerware bowl whose surface had aged. I loved that. Now I’m painting.”

Thick paint filed down with a rasp to produce a base layer is a technique of negoro-nuri, a traditional craft from Wakayama.

Negoro-nuri artists paint vermilion lacquer over a base black layer. With use the vermilion layer wears down, revealing the black base. It changes over the years layer by layer, giving rise to new character. It inspires appreciation with use. I want to create that aging process with my paints.”

Hiramatsu brings a sense of calm to her work, avoiding a reckless infusion of her feelings into paintings. Each evokes a sense of warmth in its subtlety. A warmth from the artist herself.

“Oils take time to set, so when I’m layering, my feelings slowly set with each layer. It’s as if I’m burying a piece of myself into each layer. That mucky feeling of walking through thick mud suits me now, I guess.”

Her work weaves an emotional tapestry with mystery and chutzpah bewitching even her purist admirers.

Words: Takahiro Koike

Asa Hiramatsu, Painter
Born in Tokyo in 1982. After graduating from university, she studied spatial design at a design firm. Later she worked for a gallery in Ginza and then took up painting seriously in 2012. Her free expression captures a new world that cannot be framed. An exhibition of her new pieces is scheduled for this summer at Terada Antiques and Gallery.
©Chikashi Kasai
©Chikashi KasaiWadachi, Layered paint on a wood panel and sanded for a velvety texture.
©Chikashi KasaiSara no ue no kokuen (2016), Boasts a cloud motif Hiramitsu has been fond of since childhood. Tree bark tops the piece, and at its foot, materials include bits of flooring.

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