My art creation focuses on “exploring how to visualize the passage of time.” For this purpose, I use materials that age or go through chemical reactions to create paintings that constantly change their appearances over time. Specifically, I cover the surface of canvas with silver leaf first, then apply drying oil, urea, chemical agents used for cyanotype print, and other materials, and depict images that symbolize “passage of time within painting,” such as frames and dead animals.

Over time, silver leaf turns brownish due to atmospheric reaction, and drying oil assumes yellow hue because of oxidization. Cyanotype, when underdeveloped, becomes unstable, and its blue color starts to fade partially. Crystalized urea eventually disappears if exposed to humidity. The painting created using these different materials will continue to change its appearance gradually even after the finishing touch is given. It is impossible to precisely predict what will become of the painting after months, years, or even decades. With discoloration progressing beyond my control, the painting surface might even turn to sheer black.

However, I accept whatever change that might happen to my painting in a positive way. I do not view the transformation of my painting as deterioration; I view it as update of image. The traces of changes that have accumulated on the surface of the painting allude to the time that has passed on it. The viewer of the painting confronts it as momentary vision, to be seen in this one and only moment. And then, the painting’s lifetime interacts with the viewer’s lifetime. My paintings that constantly update their images and appearances tell of the passage of time that flows right here in front of our eye.

Asahi Sugai

© Asahi Sugai 2024