Keiko Ishii Eckhardt
We live in a society where celebrity worship and an obsession with wealth and luxury goods can coexist daily with news of impending pandemic threats and worldwide political and religious warfare. Gaudy displays of physical vanity and self-aggrandizing behavior have become an acceptable means to define our cultural persona. Tempted by the glow of the spotlight, and seduced by its excesses, we are told by our political leaders that we can solve the world's problems simply by shopping. In my oil paintings on panel I am exploring this relationship between two realities: a shiny sparkling surface world and a dark and troubled world of fear. Young beautiful bodies vogue and pose in empty, acidic-colored spaces. Exposed skin takes on a cold, other worldly sheen wrapped in the latest designer fashions. Lurking behind the glitter, the desire for status motivates and defines the search for an advantageous mate. Viral entities, gas clouds and bubbling pink sores begin to roll in as if from a fog machine to obscure or engulf the figures in mid-come-on. This combined imagery forces a visual duality: the escapist pop culture youth can no longer hide from the horrors of reality. I use a technique of glazing in multi layers to create a luscious candy-colored sweetness in the surface of the works. This colorful sweetness entices participation by the viewer making palpable, the viral cloud menace as it influences the libidinous scene. With our attention being pulled in so many directions by media over saturation and the cult of celebrity, our society seems to turn its assessing eye further and further inward and away from the darkness of the world's problems. Is this candy land we have created a beautiful barrage of harmless luxury, or will this insidious viral nature lead to our extinction?