Setsuko Aihara

Bog Queen
oil on linen
32 x 26 in.

Born and raised in Japan, I was as a university language instructor. I began drawing and painting in my mid-thirties after making an existential decision in favor of aesthetic existence. I worked for many years in Honolulu, Boston, and Ireland, and currently live  and work in Vienna, Austria. After taking a course in painting in the Venetian method, but have been self-taught since then.

As a member of society I am concerned to understand the human condition, and to express images from what I understand or do not understand. Having gone through many phases of self-liberation and challenges from racial and gender discrimination as an Asian woman in the United States, images often come from my dreams. My concerns range from the philosophical and depth-psychological, through the social, environmental, and political (especially the liberation of women), to human emancipation in general.

‘Bog Queen’: I was inspired by poems, Punishment and Bog Queen by the Nobel Laureate Irish poet Seamus Heaney. The image of the black bog body is associated with the tribal punishment of tarring and feathering performed to Northern Irish young women who had sexual relationships with British soldiers during the time of political conflict. My image of a bog girl is a quiet protest against sexual injustice that still prevails in many cultures.