"An ode to the days of the past, White Space Art Asia is kick off the new year with a line of programs that take you back to your childhood days. 

‘Chocolate, Gummy Bears and Giant Robots’ is a multi-sensory exhibition that recalls the different facets of childhood and seeks to make tangible our faded memories of the simpler bygone days. Merging nostalgic sights with different human senses, we invite you to revisit the lived experiences and sensations you used to enjoy as a child. We will be showcasing a comforting curation of works from contemporary artists such as Andry Boy Kurniawan, Galih Reza Suseno, H@L, Zhao Yanan, and Jessie Katsukin Takamura." 

- White Space Art Asia, visit their website here

Here she created a new series of works she collectively titled 'Melty Candyland'.

Melty candyland

"What started from flat felt motifs in 2014 transformed into surrealist sculptures by the second quarter of 2023. Jessie Katsukin Takamura is a contemporary fibre artist who explores the shared human experiences through the delicate textures of felt. At its core, Jessie's enthralling ocuvre is a masterful blend of imaginary creatures and pop culture references; each sculpture imbued with their own unique identity and larger than life presence. The sugary sweet colours employed by their own unique identity and invoke a sens of childlike cheeriness, inviting us to tap into and contemplate fond memories of a not-so-distant past.

Atop a wooden hourglass rests a banana split sky castle. 'Timelapse' is one of the works featured in the Timepiece series, Jessie's whimsical take on human nature in the context of time. A miniature bear, bunny and kitten reside within this structure, representing how all creatures are no exception to the ephemerality of time. Yet, instead of struggling against time, humans have started to embrace it. Through 'Timelapse', Jessie calls attention to how man has found ways to 'slow down time', not in the literal sense, but by improving productivity through innovation.

Another dreamlike, masterpiece from the same series, 'Timestop' is an inverted three-scoop ice cream on a cone with a sea castle balanced at its peak. In Singapore, we all know that we need to rush to finish an ice cream before it melts completely. 'Timestop' is an afterthought that questions whether the development and innovation at an extreme pace could result in the loss of personal autonomy.

Donning a pink yukata, this adorable doll, 'eGO' is part of the ID series. Contrary to the Japanese philosophy omoiyari (altruistic sensitivity), the disproportionately large head is a representation of the doll's overflowing self-importance. Acting as a key facet of one's conscience and personality, the ego influences a person's perception of themself along with what they project toward others. The missing ears of this humanoid character embodies how one behaves when their ego grows out of proportion - they tune out from the world around them and puts themself in the center of everything. Jessie seeks to remind us to regulate our self-esteem to avoid becoming too prideful.

A lovely pastel bear with an eerie doll head that sits on top of it creates an unorthodox visual that makes up 'AltereGO', another work from the ID series. The bear is adorned with ribbons, sprinkled with sequins, and flowers growing on his torso, head and leads, The two heads mirror an individual's various personalities. Depending on the situation, we tend ot change how we carry ourselves in order to be accepted. Jessie's AltereGO serves as a reminder that our alter ego are still parts that make up our true self."

ABOUT THE artworks

Vending Fridge Bear (2024)

Felt, battery, aluminium foil

25.0 cm x 14.0 cm x 49.0cm 

Vending Fridge Bear (2024) is what you see as it is; a chocolate bear with the body of a fridge with vending machine as the door. It’s my dream to own such invention; 2 machines at the price of 1. At the door, you can purchase any type of ice cream. Craving for a banana split? Press the blue gummy bear button. Want a tub of ice cream? Simply press the green button. Not enough? Open the door to choose a range of ice cream of a larger scale. 

Standing close to half a meter, this sculpture symbolizes irony and contradictions. The fridge is meant to preserve food by keeping its internal temperature cool, as a result of exothermic reactions in its system, its external feels warm. Wouldn’t the chocolate bear melt eventually? In life, we want as many good outcomes as possible, yet there’s no such thing as guaranteed happiness. There will definitely be something to sacrifice.

Moreover, why spend a couple of cents and dollars at the vending machine when you could have opened the door to get your ice cream? Our human brain is complex; apart from its different parts that serve different purposes, our thoughts does not always translate to actions. Sometimes when we said we wanted something in our mind, we would verbally say something else. Often, when we don’t address what our subconscious’ desire, we would have contradictory actions.

Nevertheless, this art piece celebrates the complexity of our human experience as humans have achieved wonders as a result of our persistence, creativity and future-forwardness. 

cold air balloon (2024)

Felt, metal, cotton

30.0 cm x 30.0 cm x 62.0 cm

Cold Air Balloon (2024) is a fabric sculpture installation portraying a strawberry-flavored ice cream in the form of hot air balloon. A black puppy is peeping over the top of the basket while a white bunny pops its head from underneath. A miniature world of ice cream exists within the interior. When the viewer peeps through the bottom of the hollow basket, they would see the sky along the basket and land on the underside of the ice cream scoop. Little animals piloting ice cream cone planes and more riding against the waves on a banana split boat.

In this miniature ice cream world, every landscape and architecture melts from morning till night. Everything resets by the next day. If your house was made from chocolate ice cream, it would completely melt by the end of the day and rebuilds itself into a different flavor by the next morning. 

This suspending felt sculpture expresses the oxymoronic feelings we experience in life. We need rain to regulate our natural resources, but when it rains, we curse at the weather for bringing inconvenience. We yearn for a comfortable and stress-free lifestyle, yet some hated wealth and purchasing power money would give. We want to be in love and avoid dying alone, yet many single people want to be ‘fiercely independent’. The bottomless world within this floating device explores the infinite combinations of oxymoron humans face. 

Fairies’ Wheel (2024)

Felt, wood, metal

32.0 cm x 22.0 cm x 36.0 cm

Fairies’ Wheel (2024) is a felt Ferris wheel made from 2 donuts, an eclair sandwich, balanced on an inverted ice cream cone. The ice cream scoop is a melting Daruma, a wooden doll used for goal-settings. Within each chocolate ducky cabin is a whole new ride itself; roller coaster made from mini cakes, ice cream airplane rides, and even spinning hot chocolate teacups. 

When a person commits to their goal of the year, they would fill one eye with a pupil, akin to signing a contract with oneself. Once they achieved their target, they can fill the other eye to symbolize victory. The Daruma, portrayed as a melting ice cream, signifies the limited time we have to achieve our dreams. If one doesn’t set a deadline, the dream will melt from our fingertips.

Our aspirations doesn’t have to be singular; we can explore as many areas of interests as we like as long as we live. Mirroring different thrill rides in the cabins within one ride (Ferris wheel), we can expect change of direction in our pursuits. Sometimes we take detours that are longer than we planned for, and we might regret our decisions. However, the skills and experiences we acquired from those detour will circle back and be useful in the future. This work encourages the viewers to dream big, look forward, and be excited what our past experience would lead us to our future adventures. 

Neapolitan Ice Cream Cake (2024)

Felt, polyvinyl, paper clay

28.0 cm x 28.0 cm x 43.0 cm

Neapolitan Ice Cream Cake (2024) is a fabric sculpture portraying a tall dessert with 3 main colours, in fact, flavors: chocolate, vanilla or lemon and strawberry. This tri-coloured cake has a tri-coloured bear standing on its top, holding a  merry-go-round mini cake with tiny animals on the ride. 

Sometimes called Harlequin ice cream, this dessert was originally made of green pistachio, white vanilla and red cherry ice cream to resemble the Italian flag. These flavors later shifted to chocolate, vanilla and strawberry in United States because those were the 3 most popular flavors. Akin to the impact of cultural influences in the local context, most of the habits and discourse are brought over from countries around the world. These are then localised to fit our own cultural contexts. This shows that external influences may affect our identity, but never rob us from our original selves. 

The advantage of having 3 choices as compared to 1 is the higher probability of sharing with a wider range of people. Think about your childhood; don’t you find sharing a multi-flavored ice cream easier than a mono-flavored one? For example, if you came from a humble background like me, it’s more straightforward to divide an ice cream equally among my brothers and myself since there are clear divisions of each flavor, whereas there’s no boundaries of the portion to share a regular ice cream. 

The merry-go-round mini cake is decorated with milk chocolate hearts inscribed: kiss me, love me, hug me, and kiss you, love you, hug you. However, there’s no exact explanation on how to love as there’s no one way to express. They are equally spaced to show fairness; it’s important to love others, but it’s also vital to love yourself. Overall, this art piece emphasizes on universal love, acceptance and empathy. 

Gachapon Shoujo (2024)

Felt, acrylic, paper clay

24.0 cm x 24.0 cm x 50 cm

Gachapon Shoujo (2024) is a sculpture of a transparent doll shaped with toy capsule machine body. It looks like a snowman with the melting ice cream on her head and a roly-poly as it was shaped to be rocking to and fro. There’s a stark contrast between the colourful capsules and decorative pieces and the white cotton candy and vinyl bear inside the spherical form. 

This work challenges viewers to take on multiple perspectives of what we thought we knew instead of viewing the world in just black and white. Our world does not only have grey areas, but also colourful ones.

Toy capsule machines are the kid version of a slot machine. Our society view gambling as illegal and even dangerous, yet we are already exposed to such tools in our childhood. However, it is the user, not the tool that creates the outcome. This machine trains us to take risk; a dime for a desired or undesired outcome. Before our attempt, we have to learn how to manage the stress of getting the undesired outcome. For most of the trials, we don’t get the toy we want, so we learnt to cope with disappointment. However, when we get the toy we want, we feel relieved and build confidence in future risk-taking. As long as we manage our resources and understand how to take calculated risks, we can gain a lot from playing at the toy capsule machine. 

Speaking of confidence, there are 2 more ways of analyzing this art piece. First, social media has further exacerbated our habit of showing the curated highlights of our life when in reality, we chose to show the best side of our life and hide those that aren’t. Some said it’s being socially responsible, while others might deem it ungenuine. No matter which side was taken, the doll appears to have an extravagant and colorful life, but internally she’s feeling empty. Second, we can see those crazy colours and decors as challenges happening in one’s life. Despite that, one can choose to remain tranquil on the inside.

In summary, this sculpture symbolizes what we choose to control within our power bubble, as reflected by the roundness of its form. One’s genuineness is expressed when they embrace transparency, revealing their vulnerabilities. We are human after all.

ice cream girl series ii-vi (2024)

Felt, acrylic paint, stainless steel, glass, plastic

23.0 cm x 4.0 cm x 23 cm (without chain)

The Ice Cream Girl series consists of 7 paintings of girls with hair made from ice cream. These acrylic paintings on felt give a tactile visual experience, especially the thick paint mimicking ice cream. The focus theme embraces individuality of each girl and signifies the temporality of youth, just like how ice cream would eventually melt away with time.

The borders are decorated with pompoms, decoden and handmade embroidered embellishments. These embroidery were made at the start of my artistic journey when I first started experimenting with felt fabric. Back then, I was just sewing facial features on flat cat head shaped felt pieces. Personally, they were considered my ‘failures’ and “too ugly” to be seen by the world. However, over time, I realised those were considered ‘successes’ in the past,  but after leveling up, they are now graded as ‘failures’. It dawned on me that we need both failures and successes to continue growing. 

The juxtaposition between the handmade embroidered felt pieces and readymade decoden represents the openness to receive help. Just like most artists, I have very specific visualisation of my artworks and prefer to be 100% involved in the art-making process. However, we have to make sacrifices in our health and time if we do not dedicate tasks. Sometimes, getting external inputs can create unexpectedly pleasant results. At the same time, including those factory-made decorative pieces further amplifies the uniqueness of my handcrafted embroidery.

the vernissage

ABOUT THE artist

Katsukin Takamura is a contemporary Asian fibre artist who explores the human conditions through Surrealistic miniature sculptures that are sometimes combined with felt-textured portraits turned into mixed media collages. Influenced by Surrealist Rene Magritte, multidisciplinary pop artist Murakami Takashi, and micro sculptor Willard Wigan, she blends imaginary creatures with pop culture references to construct mini sculptures with huge presence.

Katsukin presents felt sculptures ranging from 0.5cm to 20cm in height. Her larger works combine with other materials such as glass bottles, ultraviolet resin, glitter, sequins, and other fabric types. In 2021, she participated in 私の可愛いOO Vol. 2 group exhibition at Gallery IYN in Osaka, Japan, exhibiting her digital illustrations and handmade sculpture prints. She held her solo show 3 x 4 = 住に at Gallery IYN in Osaka, Japan, where she displayed her handmade sculpture prints. Her tiny figures were exhibited during 'Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Super Mini Thingy' miniature group show from 21st July - 6th August 2023 at Kult Studio & Gallery. From 4th to 27th October 2023, she participated in a group exhibition titled PEPTO BISMOL ストロベリーミルク to showcase her breakthrough series titled ID. She displayed her body of ice cream sculptures titled Timepiece series at the ICE CREAM 2023 from 4th to 12th November 2023. Her ice cream sculpture Timestop was once again exhibited from 23rd to 31st December 2023 during the Year-End Exhibition 2023 curated by Drawing Etc. art supply store.