Elysha Rei is a Japanese-Australian visual artist whose work draws upon her mixed heritage and lived experiences between places, cultures and communities. Her works are created from personal and historical archives which embed narrative and symbolism within a Japanese design aesthetic. Works include portraits, patterns and paper cutting which have been translated into large-scale murals and public art commissions. Since completing a Bachelor of Visual Arts in 2008, Rei has created and exhibited work, curated exhibitions and managed cultural spaces across Queensland as well as Melbourne, Sydney, Darwin, New Zealand Thailand and the US. In November 2018 she will travel back to Japan to undertake an Asialink Arts Creative Exchange artist residency at Studio Kura to research and create new work inspired by the patterns in her Samurai ancestor’s armour, to be exhibited at No.12 Gallery in Tokyo.
Rei's first international solo exhibition was in January 2015 held at Use Space in Bangkok featuring 10 self-portrait drawings exploring a transitional point of growth in her life after completing an intensive drawing residency at Sam Rit Residency in 2014. In March 2017 Rei was invited to work with Brisbane artist Benjamin Werner to produce a 2 week experimental installation at Onespace Gallery in Spring Hill, titled Onespace Onsite REI + WERNER. In June 2017, Rei was the first Artist-in-Residence at Museum of Brisbane, creataing a hand-cut paper installation and provided paper cutting workshops.
Rei is experienced in conducting artist talks, workshops and professional development mentoring for emerging artists and arts workers including presentations and workshops for Brisbane City Council, Redland Art Gallery, Artisan, Metro Arts and the 2016 TransCultural Exchange at Boston University. She has been featured on ABC2 TV Show as well as a cover-girl and feature article in the Winter 2017 edition of CWA's Ruth Magazine. She continues to do commissions and exhibit her work whilst building a career in arts management. Her work has been collected by private clients internationally. For the latest updates please follow her Facebook page and Instagram account.
Notable commissions include:
A key constant in my life has been the transition between places, cultures and communities, with travels between Europe, Africa, the UK, Asia, and around Australia. This has instilled a curiosity to examine my identity through my family’s history. Having Japanese and Australian grandmothers, I am fascinated by the cultural differences between both sides of my family lineage. The cross-roads between East and West are integral to my work, manifesting visually and metaphorically.
My work is often interwoven with a narrative or historical meaning, which invites the viewer to probe deeper than the surface. I relish the opportunity to research new histories and information to respond to site-specific projects. Whether it is the architectural plans of a city hall or the patterns of kimono fabric – each starting point helps to create a story.
Paper-cutting is a contemporary art medium of expression that I favour for both its folklore quality and its unforgiving, yet satisfying, nature. Without the ability to erase lines or paint over a mistake, cutting paper forces me to trust my decisions. It makes me invest in my designs with conviction. I relish the challenge of creating artworks through paper-cutting that are visually captivating as well as structurally refined.