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 installation commissions. Since completing a Bachelor of Visual Arts in 2008, Rei has created and exhibited work, curated exhibitions and managed cultural spaces across Australia, Japan, Thailand, New Zealand and the US.
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.