Those familiar with Aiko Robinson’s shunga-inspired practice will immediately recognise the shift she has made with the gouache, ink, and watercolour works in Colours of the Bedroom. Completed during the final year of her Master’s degree at the Tokyo School of Art, Robinson’s exquisite use of line to capture movement and shape is instantly recognisable but floating washes of colour have replaced the obsessive patterning and detailed settings of earlier works.
In contrast to the narrative scenes Robinson has previously presented, many of these new works reveal only partial glimpses of tangled bodies. The artist has always emphasised the forms of the lovers rather than their identities. Her depictions of bodies with no heads establish an immediate distance between us and the subject matter, requiring us to look closely to make sense of the works. These cropped close-ups abstract the bodies even further, drawing additional attention to the elegant balance and weight of Robinson’s drawing. What remains the same however, is the potential for us to be surprised when our careful examination of a work reveals an expanse of thigh and labia rather than solely a conceptual exploration of space and mark-making.
This body of work sees Robinson extend her practice to consider the way in which she can interrogate and extend the visual framework she uses. Her drawing style has always referenced the flattened planes of perspective and stylised forms seen in traditional Japanese drawing and print-making. The inclusion of sweeps of colour in these works accentuate the unreality of what we are seeing, reducing depth to variations of hue and tone. In Colours of the Bedroom 2, the coloured blocks reflect the abstracted shape of the human body alongside, reminding us that the solid forms Robinson creates are in fact the sweep of a line through empty space.