Keiko Yokoyama’s “Scarlet Dreams” leads us to settings where the dominance of the red color preludes the intensity of remembering the past. The exhibition continues to capture Yokoyama’s prompt to embrace and revisit memories through a collection of paintings highlighting these scenes. Her dramatic renderings of almost obsolete objects today bring us to a time when they were significant in our daily lives: a snail mail dropbox, a beetle-looking car, and dolls that look like they have lived in another period. Using the color red alleviates the power of longing for an era that is now gone but not forgotten.
Here, we find objects like an antique sewing machine, which seems to be still operating in its glory. The creases and folds of the fabric become alive as we imagine it approaching the sharp needle. For many of us, this reminds us that we once lived in a world that seemed to run at a pace that allowed us to enjoy crafts and work with our hands; the labor involved in making something like a quilt is treasured.
Meanwhile, in Yokoyama’s “Doll Play,” two girls play with their favorite dolls. A cat sits between them and tries to reach the ball of yarn. This dreamlike scenario was the norm when electronic gadgets were not yet the center of every household. The artist is asking us to consider these moments filled with warmth and care; when interactions are part of our desire to tend to one another and to feel each other’s presence even on what seems to be the most ordinary days. Thus, a wave of nostalgia dominates the exhibition. This is exemplified in works like “Letter From the Past” and “Culture Doll,” where a sweeping feeling of longing is attached to the images.
One cannot help but become wistful in witnessing Yokoyama’s wanderings. However, the sentiment is not lost on the future generation, as these illustrations should remind them that when the world asks for too much, they can think about these solemn moments of joy, innocence, and bliss. As William Butler Yeats tells us, “The innocent and the beautiful have no enemy but time.” Hence, Yokoyama’s “Scarlet Dreams,” asks us to continue living in the present while reflecting on the past: take what is essential and bring it to the future.
curated by Gwen Bautista