Atsuko Yamagata’s “Lovable Adorable Cells” explores the understanding of life, human emotions, and all that it encompasses through the investigation of images drawn from microscopic cells. Here, the organisms become representations of sentiments as they are gathered together in a commune-like ensemble. Through painting, the artist engages a process that emphasizes the characteristics of every image and cell as it becomes a representation of universal emotions. Since the pandemic, Yamagata yearns to describe the invisible life present in the world through restaging the deepest and smallest biological units inside our bodies. Every cell that occupies our body contributes to the way we relate to ourselves and the society. In her art-making, Yamagata continues her process of allowing the flow of glue to organically dictate the shape and form in her work as natural elements such as air and water intervene. This manner allows uncontrolled elements in the composition, thus, these imperfections constitute the genuine bearings that make us all human —lovable, adorable, and yet complicated cells inside a body. Hence, we come to acknowledge even the nuances of living.

In portraying these images, Yamagata points out the equality and universality of emotions as well as the cells that make our body: both looking indiscriminately into race, gender, and socio-economic status. If we really want to make sense of life, then, we simply respect it in all its forms. Another aspect of these works is the presence of flamboyance meticulously rendered in the details tended to every depiction of the cell. At times, they may look the same but they each carry individual characteristics that make each form and color stand out from each other. This is parallel to the way people would navigate themselves in their own society for each may function as an individual, important in the sense of independence, yet purposefully part of a larger scope just as a cell becomes a tissue, a muscle, a body, and a person.

 curated by Gwen Bautista