If anything good came out of the ongoing pandemic, it’s that it drove talents like SiIIDA to seek refuge in digital art. When the societal restrictions in the wake of the outbreak halted her plans to start art school, the young Japanese surrealist successfully begged her parents for iPad. Her artistic pseudonym was born and with the aid of social media the world was introduced to her unique style of illustrative painting. Translating her rich inner world into creative works showcases a distinct visual technique, one that feels inspired by traditional Japanese illustration peppered with a slightly macabre and manga-esque sensibility. The, at times quite literal, objectification of her dead-eyed female protagonists also reminded me of the biting social commentary of the late and great Tetsuya Ishida. But Siiilda’s universe is very much her own, filled with repressed dark desires and hopes, where pain and pleasure are often tightly interwoven. In the works presented here, we immediately see the artist’s signature: from an attentive focus on and love of hands to the contrasting color palette of brightly toned objects, clothes and backgrounds with the faded yellow and pale whiteness of the skin tones. A reddish aura breathes life into patches of skin and fingertips, as if to underline the lifeblood that pumps beneath their papery surface. Here again the artist seems to pay homage to the classic Shin Hanga illustration movement. In the four pieces shared, we feel an artist coming to grip with her inner and outer struggles, be it a handshaped mouth-masque (which the artist also created in sculpted form) or a burst of vomited roses. Touching and being touched remains a pattern throughout, how indifferent the characters might seem, that desire of closeness permeates in every digital stroke.
It’s rare that a young artist so quickly finds her own voice, one that I hope we can keep experiencing through her creative endeavors in the hopefully less turbulent years to come. And to all our MoCDA followers, may 2023 be a year where you can be touched, both literally and figurative, perhaps already starting here by the bizarre beauty of SiIIDA’s imagination.