The art of transformation

Art is above all, the experience of transformation, says Kimiko Yoshida. Through photographs of her self-portraits, the artist transforms into different characters. In fact, “All that’s not me, that’s what interests me” is Kimiko’s philosophy and indeed, from her self-portraits, we witness the act of role-playing and the art of characterisation.

The artist fled her homeland to escape the injustice and gender inequality faced by Japanese women and it seems she has not looked back since. In her latest body of works, the series was conceived with the history of art in mind, more specifically, paintings. The transposition of portraits by old masters to Kimiko’s striking digital print on canvases is achieved with haute couture garments and accessories by Paco Rabanne.

I shall refrain from discussing too much about her works and instead, let the images transport you into the world of Kimiko, or rather into a world where everything not Kimiko.

Can you guess which painting this looks like? We are looking at a very contemporary interpretation of Mona Lisa.

Another very straight forward artist reference; the portrait of Andy Warhol. I love this one, simply because it does look like Warhol!

The portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife by Flemish artist Jan van Eyck is probably one of the most studied paintings and here is Kimiko’s version of Giovanni Arnolfini.

The artist is almost lost in this portrait of Queen Margot, originally painted by Francois Clouet. Kimiko’s art practice focuses more on the process of transforming herself than the act of taking a self-portrait. She had described that “each photograph is a ceremony of disappearance” and that “to be there where I think I am not, to disappear where I think I am, that is what matters”.

Almost architectural-like and very Japanese, this work actually references the Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.

Ah, my favourite. Dona Isabel de Porcel by Spanish painter Francisco Goya. In the original painting, Dona Isabel is looking to the left and not towards the viewer but in Kimiko’s version, she faces the viewer but with a glazed look in her eyes; this makes the portrait even more dramatic.


Nothing could be more chic than black and gold. I am no fan of war but this Goddess of War Athena (originally painted by Gustav Klimt) is stunning. Gustav Klimt is one of my favourite artists in the world. His works are breathtakingly beautiful. This is an artist who has the ability to transport me into another universe…

A befitting image for a final note; very poetic, very dramatic, very minimalistic and above all, very Japanese.

Which brings me to the conclusion; Kimiko escaped Japan but the Japanese in her never left.

X Sybil

(All images from

About fashionartisan
Bringing out the art in fashion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: