Juri Morioka is a Japanese painter who has lived and worked in New York City since receiving her BFA in painting from Parsons School of Design in 1990. A recipient of numerous grants and awards, she has had solo shows in New York, Tokyo, Portland (Oregon, USA) and Kumamoto (Japan). She has exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. and in Greece, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. Her works are in many public and private collections around the world, including Sony and HH Sheikha Sheikha Bint Saif Al Nahyan. Morioka has brought her newest paintings and works on paper to Dubai for a special exhibition at The American University in Dubai’s Rotunda Gallery. “Listening to the Inner Voice”, hosted by AUD’s Visual Communications Department, is on view from 23 March through 14 April. The reception on 25 March was highlighted by a lecture in which Morioka described her approach to painting as a process of continually losing and finding herself in her works. She talked of the freedom, happiness and sense of discovery she felt as a child, and how, to this day, those feelings come back to her as she paints. Revealingly, she spoke without notes, demonstrating the same spontaneous approach to speaking that she brings to her painting.
Morioka is no stranger to the United Arab Emirates. On her first visit, in May 2007, she was struck by the many similarities between the UAE and her native Japan: “There are things about the UAE that remind me so much of Japan. The traditional clothes bring back memories to me of the kimono my grandmother wore; the scents and perfumes remind me of Japanese incense, and the way it seems to suffuse the world around us with serenity and a feeling of deep spirituality. The UAE is a young country, but you feel the presence of a long history of honored traditions. I was raised with conventional Japanese values, and here too the old, conventional values, interacting with the energy of fast-growing cities and multi-cultural influences become something so powerful.” Speaking engagements at AUD and Zayed University in Abu Dhabi on her return trip in March 2008 were well received. She credits her experiences in the UAE with helping her to re-integrate “a sense of the East” into her recent works. About her work, Morioka writes: “I always approach the canvas directly, without any preceding sketches or studies. I paint in the manner of Zen, moving my brushes along with my mind’s rhythm, relying solely on the inner voices of instinct and intuition. Outside of conscious thought, I search for harmony and form in the play of color and shapes, and a composition gradually emerges. Then, feeling my way with my brush, I enter the painting and wander through its spaces and along its paths with a deep sense of belonging. I welcome the viewer to join me on the same journey, with the same sense of belonging, sharing in the belief that everything has a life of its own.”
Morioka’s abstract paintings, often embellished with gold leaf, weave vivid colors into loosely rectangular forms beneath grid-like patterns of striped and dotted lines. Within some reside mysterious objects -- delicate floral shapes, free-floating spirals and ideograms. The overall result is a study in rhythm, color and space that is heard and felt as much as seen.
For more information, please visit the artist’s website: www.juri.org