A Duet with My Grandfather I Have Never Met

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As a part of Eiko's new Duet Project: Distance is Malleable, Eiko creates a duet with her grandfather's paintings. Painter Chikuha Otake (1878-1936) who died 16 years before Eiko was born. A duet with a dead person's work is an attempt to learn about the dead, his art, and take in and share the remains of the dead. It is to also discover and nurture the self in relationship to the dead.

Camera by Eiko Otake and Ryohei Endo
The footage recorded at Toyama Suiboku Museum in Japan on March 12, 2018.
The texts are taken from Chikuha's published essay.
Video edit and translation by Eiko

Chikuha was a praised figure in traditional Japanese painting. He earned many national awards in his early career. But later his experimenting with more ambitious styles and his anti-mainstream sentiments were shunned by the field authorities. Out of his frustration, he ran unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives in 1915. His loss brought him much debt and his reputation was severely damaged.

This exhibition that marked the 140th anniversary of Chikuha Otake’s birth was the first large-scale showing of his work more than 80 years after his death. The first picture in the video is in the collection of Tokyo MoMA and the second and third pictures are from that of Miyagi Prefecture Museum. The latter were painted in 1920, when Chikuha's first son, Eiko's father, was born.