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We have not finished discovering the effects of confinement on the creative process of artists. Far from restricting their inspiration, isolation seems to have more often than not increased it tenfold. Thus, exiled and entrenched in her New York studio, the Japanese photographer Sayuri Ichida, for lack of models, has taken herself as an “object” of research.


The result is beautiful and fascinating. Absentee (Absent) is the title of this series, which earned the photographer her Master of Arts at the University of Westminster last year, and which we discovered with great pleasure in Antwerp in the excellent Ibasho Gallery (which we will soon find at Paris Photo). 


Of great poetry, flirting with surrealism but of an almost abstract bareness, we see the most tenuous things, the most banal objects, the most ordinary pieces of wall or window, take on an incredible consistency. An almost tactile presence, an “epidermal” presence one could say, as these discarded objects, these curtains and these corners of the wall usually neglected, enter in resonance with the pieces of skin of the bodies hanging at their side. This giant exquisite corpse, staged by the photographer, is a disturbing intertwining of the living and the inert, having woven a dialogue between herself, her body, the silence, and the things that surround her in solitude. 


Hanging one next to the other, in an odd relationship of strangeness and complicity, like the embedded pieces of a surrealist puzzle playing with the magic of the famous “chance encounter” stated by Lautréamont in Les Champs de Maldoror 1…, the objects and the pieces of her body, often duplicated, tell us so many things in the soft silence of black and white or extinguished tints (grey, midnight blue…): love, loneliness, lack, waiting… but also envy, the awakening and acuity of the senses, the rustling of the grass in the night… 


Here, a forearm and a hand abandoning themselves to the darkness next to a piece of wood looking like a wreck, seeming to pierce the void, veiled, three photos further on by a curtain of tulle; there, as if weightlessly and transparently posed, on this same void, two curled-up twin backs linked by a thread… which is echoed, in the next photo, by the serpentine line of a twig… Echoing itself the sublime nude enthroned, from behind, in the wild grass of an extraordinary night chiaroscuro… Playing with the changes of scale and format (the nude in foot flaming like a flame in the grass holds in the two shoulders which adjoin it) but also of the duplicity of the image (here, a leg becoming a back…). Sayuri Ichida is more than a photographer, a visual artist. The proof is in the magnificent installations of rubble and other discarded objects picked up in the street, which she has turned into sumptuous games of illusion, or the plasticity of her sublime patched belly –  a virtuoso collage, an ode to femininity full of modesty and sensuality. 


Born in 1985 in Fukuoka, Japan, Sayuri Ichida now lives in Margate, Kent, after graduating as an art photographer from the University of Westminster in London (2021) and as a fashion photographer from Tokyo Visual Arts College (2006) and living in residence in New York, where she will return this winter for a Light Work (Artist-in-Residence Program). 

Ibasho Gallery – Tolstraat 67, 2000 Antwerp 

    Stéphanie Dulout


116 rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris

Phone : +33 (0)1 42 71 20 22

Fax : +33 (0)1 42 71 00 11

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