For Miho, standing in front of a painting doesn’t just stimulate her eyes and stop there: she craves experiencing the atmosphere in its entirety – to know exactly what smells and sounds hover in the air. After a short career working in banking, she traded the keyboard for brushes in search of sensory solace, painting to memorialise her life as it unfolded day by day.
Her two daughters are a constant source of inspiration: both appear in the paintings in glimpses, sometimes captured giddily playing or innocently asleep at their home in Fukuoka, Japan. Miho photographs these transitory scenes initially, before making drawings, eventually cropping the compositions, or heightening colour when moving to canvas. She’ll often find herself retreating to Georges de La Tour’s painting for relief, mirroring Mary Magdalene’s pensive observation of a burning but with her snapshots of daily life. Painting for Miho isn’t just a replication of what’s in front of her, it evokes the aura surrounding her subjects, too: how scents change as seasons pass, or recurring sounds welcome morning to night, both evoking feelings she can transpose in paint. Her appreciation for earth’s cycles stems from her upbringing in Japan where, she says, people are encouraged to openly embrace each season, portrayed so effortlessly by her favourite woodblock print by .
Miho plainly appreciates the simpler things in life, rarely complicating her paintings with subjects not at her grasp. Her grapple to paint is instinctive, reactionary to moments of intimacy which might otherwise be ignored, or skitter from her memory. When oils meet brush, these events are relived, heightened by her wandering imagination, or the sensations she experiences at their brief moment of capture. And yet, they’re never too far away from reality, as she’ll often refer to the refined compositions of painter Alex Katz, in particular the muted shadows of three loungers on a . Miho achieves a similar deftness, never relying on paint to usurp reality, an honest craft plain to see – whether it’s the texture of canvas or mottled remnants of her brushes wanderings.
In ‘Bouquet’, she paints her daughter’s hand clutching flower stems with a Katz-like precision, the mercurial wobble of shadows caught just as the sun moves again. It’s painted at scale too, deepening Miho’s impulse to reach out and retrieve them from her grasp. She felt a similar tactile lure on a trip to the Bemberg Foundation in Toulouse, when confronted by Bonnard’s unctuous painting of a bowl of . Miho’s tangible grasp of painting heightens her everyday scenes into touching commemorations of motherhood, each with an exuberance she feeds from memories of her surroundings as they swiftly pass – blink, and she might miss it.
Miho Ichise (b. 1969, Japan) received a BA in Fine Art (Painting) from Chelsea College of Art & Design in London. Recent exhibitions include: On My Path, Nationale 8 Gallery, Brussels (2022), Chew, Scroll nyc, New York (2022), Love Calls Us to the Things of This World, UCM Gallery of Art & Design, USA (2022), Daily Sparks, Althuis Hofland Fine Arts, Amsterdam (2022), Nine Lives, Fortnight Institute, New York (2021)