Artist Izumi Yokoyama’s drawings depict the natural world, exploring the relationship and fragile balance between living and dying.
Taos, NM | izumiyokoyama.com | @zu_taos
Izumi Yokoyama’s images feel like memories from a fairy tale (Grimm, not Disney—the kind that can be as terrifying as they are beautiful). A sense of nostalgia for the unknown permeates her work, along with motifs of grace and violence from the natural world.
Born in Niigata, Japan, Yokoyama earned her MFA from San Francisco Art Institute before finding her way to Taos. Stories and environments from Japan and the high desert are strong influences in her work.
“I create intricate line drawings to explore and embrace human struggles within the context of nature,” says Yokoyama. “I am compelled to depict the relationship between living and dying, and the fragile balance between the two, through my subjects.” For example, in Transformation–Phoenix, the eponymous bird seems to be crouched in an exhausting and private pain, flames rising from her back against a tent of night. Transformation is as much destruction as it is creation, the phoenix implies.
Yokoyama’s use of negative space is especially beautiful, conjuring the vastness of our imagination or of the unknown and its mysteries. “With void offering me the opportunity to breathe and process, I meditatively thread the ephemeral and eternal,” says Yokoyama. This is illustrated in Utopia, among other works. The drawing depicts a woodland scene with three not-deer. These seem to be deer-shaped holes in the fabric of perception where galaxies swirl and somewhat nightmarish eyes stare back at us as stars (or disregard us completely).
Yokoyama also creates murals, calligraphy, installations, sculptures, and public art projects. Her work has been shown around the United States and in Japan. She received the Image Award at the Taos Fall Arts Festival in 2017 and her exhibitions at Taos’s Harwood Museum of Art have garnered critical acclaim.