Bouguereau Award

Home / Salons / 13th ARC Salon

Katsu Nakajima

Woman in the Forest


162 x 162 cm | 63 3/4 x 63 3/4 in

Oil and gold leaf on canvas

  • William Bouguereau Award ($3,000 Cash Award)

"In Japan, deep and vast forests are often called 'jukai' (oceans of trees). They are considered a spirit world and people are often afraid to step into them. It is believed that dense, dark and humid forests grown over millennia have a magical power beyond time and space and can deceive and bewilder people. My recent paintings are based on the theme of deep forests and women figures. They represent my perception of the chaos of human mortality through the mystique of jukai.

In the process, gold leaf was applied to the background in two layers: the first covered the whole area uniformly, then the second was overlaid in geometric patterns. The use of gold leaf is intended to diminish a sense of perspective, while creating a floating effect. The woman's kimono is a traditional wedding gown called 'uchikake,' a special garment embroidered with gold and silver thread.

The scene, where the mossy old trees interlocked with each other approach the woman as if they are going to conceal her, represents the encounter of a spirit world and a human. The woman is more an embodiment of multitudinous gods or a spiritual image than a human. She can also be seen as a shamanic figure, as in animism or shamanism. Essentially, I may be trying to capture the border between life and death in my paintings." – KATSU NAKAJIMA