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Duet With Chikuha Otake | Eiko + Koma
Duet With Chikuha Otake

Duet With Chikuha Otake

As a part of Eiko's new Duet Project: Distance is Malleable, Eiko researched and learned about her grandfather, painter Chikuha Otake (1878-1936), who died 16 years before Eiko was born. Eiko travelled to see his painting,  read his published essays and created a duet with his paintings and words. The video can be seen alone or during her performance as Eiko interacts with the projected image. 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.

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.

In 2018 spring, Eiko travelled to see the exhibition held at Suiboku Museum in Toyama, Japan 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. Eiko performed alone in the gallery without any audience members. In September 2018, Eiko also performed with his painting in the collections of The Philadelphia Museum of Art.

by Chikuha Otake

I don't intend to paint well. I just want to paint, so I do. I don’t care much about the results, nor what people think. What I do care for, is to surprise people, to hear their gasps. I want to somehow produce a masterpiece. It’s going to take a few years

I have this habit, hastiness, this sensation to move onto the next thing once I start working on a piece. I have many subject I want to paint, so perhaps this nature of mine might just not be fixable. I can’t paint if I don’t feel like it, but once I start painting, somehow I’ll paint one after the next. So, perhaps there’s not much weight in them.

When someone is in trouble, I would want to help out by all means possible. And I cannot say no to those who ask me to do something. I feel like this is hindering me. I want to take part in the many things in this world. But, I am really slow, so I want to study. It’s certain that the known people are good at what they do because they study.

To me, death of Shunso Hishida is a huge loss. When he died, I was flattened, and tired of everything. I worshiped him. People saw him as a cold person, but he was an earnest person.

When I was twenty, I had decided I was forty. I was cheap for a forty, so I worked hard. I believe that I am entrusted to a mission to complete a masterpiece. I still cannot achieve it, but I cannot die until I’ve gone the distance. My paintings are no good either until people stop telling me I paint well. It’s also wrong to think that I am great because they sell at high prices. I want to make something that transcends good and bad, pricy and cheap. I want my work to be sincere. Art without sincerity has no value. This sincerity is to be taken broadly.