喉元過ぎれば熱さも忘れる Down the Throat, Heat Forgotten by Mayuko Ono Gray

Mayuko Ono Gray is a Houston Texas based artist whose main medium is graphite drawing. Born in Gifu Japan, she was trained in traditional Japanese calligraphy in her young childhood; later in her teenage she was trained in classical Western drawing.

After graduating from high school in Japan, she moved to the U.S. She earned her MFA in painting from the University of Houston main campus in 2007.

Her works are represented by Hooks-Epstein galleries in Houston TX and Galeria 910 in Oaxaca Mexico, and her works have been exhibited internationally in Tokyo Japan, Oaxaca Mexico, and Rome, Italy.

Artist's Statement

Reflecting a life which is both culturally Japanese and American, my graphite drawings hybridize influences from traditional Japanese calligraphy combined with Western drawing practices and aesthetics.

Growing up in Japan, every Saturday afternoon was spent with my Sensei, a calligraphy master who would assign words for each of us to practice. We would spend hours producing copies of the Sensei's sample. The goal was to imitate the sample, paying attention to the line quality, the varying speed, the pressure and angle of the brush movement. The handling of the brush had to become rhythmic and graceful.

At high school age, in preparation to entrance exam to art university in Japan, I had to take private lessons to learn drawing with graphite and charcoal practicing techniques such as chiaroscuro and sfumato. Saturday afternoons were replaced by a Western style art studio with pedestals, still lifes, and white marble copies of Roman busts, instead of tatami mat calligraphy studio sitting on the floor. The fluid ink was replaced with malleable graphite and ephemeral charcoal. The wet immediacy of calligraphic line was replaced with illusionistic volumes meticulously rendered. Instead of going through dozens of rice papers in a session, one sheet of high-quality cotton paper was given to work on.

Traditional Asian art-forms have often integrated word and image, and my interest and practice also follow the path in my unique way. In my current works, I mostly use images of persons, animals, and still lifes captured in my daily experiences. A Japanese proverb accompanies each work, spelling out the hiragana and kanji characters intertwine to create a single line which has only one entrance and one exit. The calligraphic line begins at the top right and ends toward the bottom left of the page, following traditional Asian writing. The single line going through a pictorial plane is a metaphor of a life: one entrance as birth of physical body, and one exit as death and loss of physical body, and all the complicated experiences during physical existence between these two.

親の心子知らず_Christmas Morning, Graphite on paper, 2018
知らぬが花_Blissful Ignorance, Graphite on paper, 2018
形あるものいつか壊れる_Black Drum, Graphite on paper, 2018
見て分からんものはきいても分からん _High Fashion, Graphite on paper, 2018
あたまかくしてしりかくさず_Hiding in the shadow, Graphite on paper, 2018
となりの花はあかい_Pink Roses, Graphite on paper, 2018
かたちあるものいつかこわれる_Anything that takes a form will break sooner or later (Mark), Graphite on paper, 2018
出会いはわかれのはじめ_Hello is the beginning of good-bye (Mimi & Taxi), Graphite on paper, 2018
後悔先に立たず_Regret never comes first (Buck), Graphite on paper, 2018
かたちあるものいつかこわれる_Anything that takes a form will break sooner or later (A cat in a shadow), Graphite on paper, 2018
芸術は長く人生は短し_Art is long, Life is short (Geri), Graphite on paper, 2019
芸術は長く人生は短し_Art is long, Life is short (George), Graphite on paper, 2019
となりの花はあかい_The rose is always redder next door, Graphite on paper, 2019
目に入れても痛くない_Apple in my eyes (Mark), Graphite on paper, 2019
知らぬが花_Silence is the Flower, Graphite on paper, 2020
知らぬが花_Emily, Graphite on paper, 2020
喉元過ぎれば熱さも忘れる_Down the throat, heat forgotten, Graphite on paper, 2020
かたちあるものいつかこわれる_41, Graphite on paper, 2020
目に入れてもいたくない_Cutie Pie, Graphite on paper, 2020
目に入れても痛くない_Mommy's baby, Graphite on paper, 2020
目に入れても痛くない_The other cat, Graphite on paper, 2020
目に入れても痛くない_Mommy's baby, Graphite on paper, 2020
見て分からんものは聞いても分からん_Corona Breakfast, Graphite on paper, 2020
黒白、猫_Two cats, Graphite on paper, 2020
笑う門には福来たる_Fortune Cookies, Graphite on paper, 2020
目に入れても痛くない_Cat with feather, Graphite on paper, 2020


Mayuko Ono Gray