Violet Hopkins: lux, lumen

by Katrina Grigg-Saito

Gallery Sora, Tokyo’s Shinkawa

Closes 28 June

In “A Lover’s Discourse,” Roland Barthes lists the fragmented thoughts of a lover seeing the world. In it he asks, “Who will write the history of tears?” Violet Hopkins offers an answer at the intimate Gallery Sora near Tokyo’s Kayabacho (www.gallerysora.com).

Like Barthes, her history is disconnected and sensual, taking the form of three large paintings on paper — one for each wall — and one wall of projected images. Hopkins’ approach to seeing and to tears is literal and representational; two giant eyes facing off across the room. But in her choice of details, complexity emerges. The green eye is wide with terror, the iris exposed, the pupil dilated. The tear that swells in the eye is jagged like a wave cresting. Across the room, the brown eye glances back, its lid heavy with sadness, its tear round and full. In its pupil, lovers are entwined in a karma-sutralike boat position, sitting upright, their limbs wrapped around each other.

Hopkins explores how color generates meaning by using two ancient slide projectors that alternate color blocks with images from postcards. As the evocative sound of slides changing fills the room, the images fade into and emerge out of saturated color: a couple on a rowboat, blue, giraffes running, yellow, a man photographing a woman, green, a rose, red. On the fourth wall, the sheen is what you see first. The white glossy paint spills down like a tear-stained face, forming the almost unreadable words, “You will write the history of tears.”