Viktorija Makauskaite

Clouds Shapeless Like Thoughts
Exhibition (during the Artists’ Book Week)
Gallery Kobo Chika, Tokyo
2024 January 12th-21st

Since the past summer, I kept humming a tune in my head:

Clouds shapeless like thoughts, text-heavy (ready to soak to the bone fresh laundry)

This chain of words seemed too short to be called a poem. So I wrote it down and let it sleep.

When my friend asked me what is the title of this exhibition, I thought the line could be it.


The gallery has a bright recessed space aside from the main area - you can call it a pocket or a niche. It’s good for displaying not-so-large works or a small exhibition. Here, my old drawings, darkroom prints, shimmering materials, funny-shaped paper, poems, and riddles gather on the walls. A cutup of a monochrome hibiscus flower print stuck to a twig sits at the corner above the unused rolls of larger drawings and print drafts. I put away a bag stuffed with some more drawings and photos at the gallery office, just in case. 


I am not sure how this spontaneous show feels for the viewer. Some, leave quickly or move to the artists’ book area, others come back again. With those who stay around longer, we try talking and finding an image that catches their attention. Sometimes, we dive into the box of photographs or check more drawings. We talk about different things with each guest or even do not talk so much. It feels warm in the gallery, and such is the feeling of sharing. Thank you to all who made it to the gallery. For your time and feedback and the many new thoughts and bonds.  Also, big thanks to A, who helped me with setup and all kinds of expertise. And Kobo Chika, Baba-san, and Naoki for your openness and hospitality.


Overheard conversations

When I start playing with ink at the end of the day I don’t normally think about a specific project. Most often, I switch on the music, start observing the sound, and slowly engage with my memories, dreams, and experiences. They lay down on paper like diary notes. Loose lines, abstract forms, and ink stains gain the shapes of a bird, a human, or a plant not discovered yet.


You are a spy, L tells me - for sure I am. I am intensely interested in what is hidden, absent, half-told, or under the surface. I like secrets,  and reflecting upon them, I keep rediscovering and redefining myself.

There are ways to uncover the secrets. For instance, this is a drawing of a smiling person on a foil and a photo print that was created by scanning the foil image. I call it Hello Color. At first sight monochrome, the foil contains the color - and the scanner can reveal it. It’s an old trick, but I think it’s a nice one and I want to use it more often. It works with anything, including black ink drawings - black holds many colors too.


This dandy insect is Gokiburi - a dirty and despicable creature that rummages your garbage bags and quickly runs across the room to make you yell.
To see the insects living among us as equals you have to acquire an insect perspective, to live like an insect.


The crow was a thief, so neighbors called the police

This series started from an incident in our street. The crow has occupied a position on the electric cables and started cawing and attacking the passers-by. It even attempted to steal their shopping bags! Somebody called the police and tried to catch the bird. Sometime later, I tried illustrating this event. That noisy crow, stealing and threatening, flying and pooping. The stones are about to hit and silence the bird. Stones also fly, but the crow escapes with ultimate grace. It always does. It is too intelligent and quick. Meanwhile, onlookers appear helpless and funny. I like to imagine them as delicious gingerbreads.


Drawings inspired by photos

A part of my sketches is an attempt to redraw and reimagine a photographic snapshot. Occasionally, I would go through my library of iPhone photos or save a screenshot from an online source and use it as a reference. Even if I do not have an actual picture in front of me any longer, a vague imprint of that image remains in my head. Often, it is a persistent memory, like an apparition asking for a new shape. I try tracing the contours of it, but often they get exaggerated or blurry. I am very interested in distortions of reality in those drawings.



This is an awkward pose of a building site electrician. I have to take a photo of the electric box position and send it to the client for verification. I decide not to crop out Suzuki-san, despite him lowering his head so as not to obstruct the view. Later, I find this image intriguing and just trace it down.


Those drawings with horses started in an absurd wreckage of war. I sometimes wonder if I should go into further detail explaining or let the drawings abandon the sources of inspiration. Maybe just let everyone believe that I love horses.


Multiple exposure

You probably have noticed how the views get overlapping and blurry in multiple-exposure photographs. I love to play with this effect and repeat the lines while searching for the best silhouette.


Photos like drawings

I started photographing my surroundings when I moved to Japan in 2009. I thought photography was a good reason to go out and befriend an otherwise desolate landscape of my neighborhood (I lived in Odaiba at that time). However lately, my introverted traits are pulling me back in, away from what is out there and real. I search for a drawing in the viewfinder. I could spend days in a darkroom if I had enough photo paper.


These drawings only mean dirty hands

Sometimes I leave a small poetic confession on my drawings (such as the above), and it’s a bit embarrassing when somebody finds and reads it. Am I judged and laughed at? Don’t they experience similar feelings too? Can anybody relate?

However, the realization that the boundary between honesty and play is quite blurry is liberating. It’s always ok to just act or imagine certain situations, right? I’m starting to enjoy this tension and confusion between true honesty and play. The state of mind is not fixed too, it keeps changing so the words and images lose their weight or acquire new meaning over time. What I left on paper, is already a departure, an abandoning of a certain state of mind.

February  3, 2024

©Viktorija Makauskaite