Gaby Oshiro

Gaby Oshiro


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   Colorado Springs, CO

Kintsugi Art Installation

Painting each portrait, looking at pictures very closely and rebuilding each glance, smile, gesture that it was vanished with time. After forty years, I became the portraits. Taking as a protagonist the Buddhist precept "Niuga, ganiu" - "I enter, enter myself."

Putting some parts of myself after reading Andrés Asato's book "No Sabían que Eramos Semillas" written about the seventeen Japanese-Argentinean "desaparecidos/disappeared" in Argentina during the '70s dictatorship that killed 30,000 of its citizens. I also had the chance to talk directly with the relatives of many of the "desaparecidos" for more insights and anecdotes.

With each brush stroke, I was trying to let go some of that emptiness that flooded the lives of the families touched by the tragedy of having a "disappeared" person.

I took the responsibility to make my father and the other sixteen, to become real again. to turn them in color and bring them among us once again for a special occasion.

"Kintsugi" is the art of recognizing the beauty in something broken, reconnecting the broken pieces with gold, at the end it becomes a new object.

I thought that it was a perfect metaphor for ourselves, to remind us that we have the courage to face the pain, that we will never forget the ones we lost, but at the same time we can heal the wounds with art/gold (Kintsugi) and walk in the present with our heads high, showing our resiliency and carrying out the will of those who are not here physically but inside out hearts.

Since the day my dad was taken I carry this weight. Someone so close as a dad will certainly be part of every day conversation, especially at school. One of my classmates from art school in Italy, Germano Dalla Pola, even though we were friends, he knew my dad was a taboo subject. When I started working on the portraits and the chapter about my dad in Asato's book and I was more open to the subject and Germano took the chance to collaborate on the art installation.

The installation is made of 17 doors for each family, each door also represents one life, one story of a "Desaparecido Nikkei," each door holds a portrait, smiling, glancing or laughing just like we would like to see them if we meet them again. The old doors, beaten and hurt, connected they form a circle, they are standing still because they are united by ties/hinges, creating a space of solidarity among the families who lost their loved ones. They support and understand each other with strong binds.

The circle as an archetype, with the perfect, simple shape, but also the most complex of all. It accompanied man since the beginning of time. It has no beginning, no end. When we gather in a circle, we are giving our full attention, we concentrate on the people, we draw strength and solidarity. It could be used as a method of offense or defense against foes. We listen and we are heard, we are all equals, there are no distinctions or divisions. We share what is important, our ideas, what we are passioned about and our dreams. We also chose the circle because it's the shape of commemorative buildings. Its functions are those of remembering, or memento (mementum, warning to remember). Like the Roman Pantheon.

The inside of the structure is painted white, for harmony and uniformity. The spectator finds herself/himself in a neutral space, completely different form the outside world, face to face with each portrait.

"The open door." The circle opens but it doesn't break, it's not interrupted but only opened. As an invitation to the viewer to enter, to pay visit, to introspect. To leave the outside world for a little while and submerge in the inside with his/her memories, silence, to meditate.

The opened door belongs to Alberto Cardozo Higa, without a portrait, his absence is the one that let us with the aperture action. His name is open to the outside, waiting for someone accepts his invitation to come to the reunion event.

The portraits composition is like a macro photograph. Connected to the space without distractions, the guest finds himself/herself face to face with each personality. Full blown color and texture, not a faded black and white picture among thousands, but a human being with his own essence.

Picasso said: "Everything you imagine is real." His phrase impacted me so much when this project was just a thought. I believe everything I paint can become real painting it.

For a moment I was able to look at my dad in the eyes. I wanted to do the same for each family or friend of "desaparecido." For this reason it became as necessary as the air I breathe. It was something that I had hidden deep inside that I needed to externalize.