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Mugi Takei: When the Bath Turns Red

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Mugi Takei, 'Ovaries'
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Mugi Takei, 'When I held you I saw a bright orange light inside my head'
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Mugi Takei, 'Untitled'
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Mugi Takei, 'Untitled'
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Mugi Takei, 'Honey, Without You Honey'
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Mugi Takei, 'Untitled'
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Mugi Takei, 'She's angry with me because her boyfriend showed me a picture of a bunch of girls' pussies.'

There are six strong shows by female artists in Seattle at the moment, causing a blog troll to complain recently about the "'pack of girl artists' that annoy and offend the sensibilities with their frivolous, neurotic, delicate, and idiosyncratic tendencies... like a Jane Austin [sic] movie [sic?]." Troll, meet the ovaries of Mugi Takei.

Takei moved to Seattle in September for no particular reason. She was born in New York in 1977 to Japanese parents who soon went back to their home country. She longed to come back and did once, briefly, but by the time she returned for grad school at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Detroit—well, it was 2008, and the whole country was going in the direction of Detroit.

So the sadness and longing in her drawings and video animations of women is both personal and world-reflecting. The women wait, bleed, jump, cry, scatter seeds, dream of drowning, sniff, drip from their nipples, lick their fingers and put them between their legs. Women in Takei's family have traditionally died in childbirth (her mother almost did)—she's inherited palpable fear.

Takei's classical training at college in Belgium aside, she has always drawn, and always in nonclassical ways. But her production ramped up when, traveling in Malaysia in 2005, she was racked with tuberculosis and had to convalesce for a year at her parents' isolated home in Japan. She can't be as active as before—but her drawings, made in gouache and pencil on paper, come out in droves. There are 123 tacked on the walls at Cullom Gallery for her first Seattle show, along with five short video animations in an aptly eerie dark closet.

In one video, a woman in a bathtub is engulfed by the blood emerging from between her legs. These women occupy a surpassingly weird but familiar world in which they're deeply vulnerable yet totally self-possessed—and separate, like how French artist Sophie Calle presents herself. (Takei's hero/ines include Marlene Dumas, Louise Bourgeois, and The Scream's Edvard Munch. Her mentor at Cranbrook was Liz Cohen, whose project of building a competitive car while bikini modeling for it showed at Lawrimore Project.)

In Takei's art, sheer fabrics mask and expose the bodies at the same time. Skin is decorated with floppy hands that form pretty patterns—but of molestation. Scenes in movies or photographs can be source materials, or Takei starts with titles that come from her writerly imagination. When I held you I saw a bright orange light inside my head is one title; her master's thesis included a fine piece of prose the gallery director will give you if you ask, and Pilot Books is including Takei in a reading at the gallery on March 24. There's a new artist in town. recommended


Comments (9) RSS

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Not who I was referring to, Jen, since I neither know of her nor have seen this show or work. By your words though it's impossible to determine merit as usual, since you have neither objectivity or distance, I'll just say angst alone does not a great artist make, but who knows?(definitely not you though). She deserves fair consideration, but your case for greatness is not looking so strong.
As for the "pack" it refers to that overrated group the likes of Cowie, Bent, Bennett, Albert, Ziegler, and so on...ah, got it now? I rest my case.
Just stop with trying to be a "career maker" and step back and report well for once, egomaniac that you are...enough! Your self-perceived notions of power and position are laughable and ridiculous. FYI, your weekly "anointing" of your chosen few is a road that ends 'nowhere', so get over yourself.
Posted by artisforangels on March 17, 2011 at 8:42 AM · Report this
We know who you are artisforangels. With each post you ate securing your place (or lack thereof) within the community.
Posted by Outing artisforangels on March 17, 2011 at 9:07 AM · Report this
gettingtoknowyoubetter 3
can't wait to see this show.
Posted by gettingtoknowyoubetter on March 17, 2011 at 9:25 AM · Report this
samktg 4
@1, If you are so unhappy with Jen's coverage of art in Seattle, why don't you write the articles YOU would want to see? Quit the constant nagging and show us where Jen is wrong, rather than repetitively saying she is wrong.
Posted by samktg on March 17, 2011 at 10:59 AM · Report this
@1: What does "self-perceived notions" mean?
Posted by yuiop on March 17, 2011 at 12:37 PM · Report this
artandpoliticsnow 6
Thanks for this heads up on a new artist in town and a venue I am not familiar with.
Susan Platt aka Art and Politics Now
Posted by artandpoliticsnow on March 19, 2011 at 3:32 PM · Report this
@2 Who?
Posted by hamsta on March 25, 2011 at 12:13 PM · Report this
@1: You are perhaps the most profoundly stupid person ever to troll under this particular bridge. Know that if you mess with our lady (who makes art in Seattle more interesting just by laying her fine mind over it) a million bright angels of death will wrestle you back into the gynophobic mud from whence you came.
Posted by emmaz on March 28, 2011 at 10:38 AM · Report this
artis for angels, please stop peeing in the fishbowl.


i dug up your grandmother and fucked her dead skeleton, love satan.
Posted by satan on April 2, 2011 at 5:10 PM · Report this

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