As many parts of the world race to open up, 1994 ECA Painting alumna Tomoko Amaki Abe’s exhibition Respire at A.I.R Gallery Brooklyn, New York invites viewers to pause and breathe.

A fitting title for our times, Respire means both to breathe, and to recover hope after a time of difficulty. Tomoko Amaki Abe’s most recent exhibition in Brooklyn, New York aims to reflect our brief yet enduring existence in our environment. In this series of works, Abe pays particular attention to the shifts in perception that have taken place as a result of the global pandemic, especially regarding the heightened symbiotic relationship between our body and our environment, she explains “as the pandemic continues to remind us of our body being part of the cycle of deterioration and regeneration, it feels natural for me to incorporate our ephemeral physicality into my work more than ever.” 

Abe says that she was inspired by the complex interplay between ecological and human systems, proved in the world’s waste, dumped into the sea, finding its way to the ocean gyre. Many of her works include found waste materials that she has collected whilst walking in nature, recounting her walks by the coast she said, “as much as it disturbs me to find this plastic in the sea, I think they are also beautiful…a reflection of ourselves; the result of our accomplishment and our knowledge.” The works in the exhibition are Abe’s attempt to record ecological landscapes as they unfold in front of her eyes, capturing various departures and returns in the cycle of life. 

An interview with Tomoko Amaki Abe
Video and editing by Renana Neuman.

"My artistic inspirations are often drawn from evolving and decaying facets of nature and their spiritual imprints, including unnoticeable elements, such as wind, soil and water, as well as man-made artifacts such as industrial wastes and debris."

Tomoko Amaki Abe, 1994 Painting alumna

Abe’s work uses a wide range of mediums including glass, ceramics, printmaking, and video; “I enjoy the interactive process with various media and exploring art forms that allow me to spontaneously collaborate with the materials I work with. Each medium has a unique character and often demands a specific artistic process or combination with other materials.” Abe explains that she has been interested in working with translucent materials such as porcelain, paper, and glass because of her interest in creating works of art that are suggestive of objects that are normally invisible, or that lie behind what can be visibly seen.  

Respire is at A.I.R Gallery Brooklyn until Sunday 18 April by appointment only. More details and a catalogue of the exhibition can be found online here: www.airgallery.org/exhibitions/tomoko-abe-respire

'Respire' Tomoko Amaki Abe at A.I.R Gallery
Photograph by Sebastian Bach
Silver Lining - Plastic Bag, 2021, kiln-cast glass, film projection
Silver Lining - Six Pack Holders, 2021, kiln-cast glass, cyanotype on porcelain, wool, film projection, 36 x 18 x 6 inches
Photograph by Sebastian Bach
Silver Lining - Six Pack Holders, 2021, kiln-cast glass, cyanotype on porcelain, wool, film projection

Are you interested in studying Painting - BA (Hons) at Edinburgh College of Art?