Japanese Haruko Maeda lives and works in Austria since 2005. Her work relies heavily on a mix of the religious iconography of her native Japan and catholic Austria, where she has spent the last seven years. Positioning herself effectively between East and West, she lends an outsider’s perspective to both cultures, resulting in surprising coexistences of sometimes opposing notions. A highly skilled oil painter, Maeda has chosen to build upon the European tradition of the vanitas still life. However, whereas the vanitas theme, as it is traditionally considered, implicates the idea of life being linear and finite, Maeda introduces rebirth as a significant iconographic element in her paintings. She thereby lets circular and linear concepts of time and intersect, prompting a crossbreeding of Eastern and Western thought. Maeda also pursues this theme in the third dimension, putting together delicate sculptures. These are generally composed of animal bones and beads complemented with other materials, precisely shaped like Japanese bonsai trees.
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A cardinal point of her art and something that she is always looking for in her work is the inherent polarity of objects, which may change into the opposite due to contrary expressions and interpretations, as well as the identity of objects that render opposites indistinguishable due to common, shared qualities.