M.Y. Art Prospects is pleased to present Ex Post Facto, our third solo exhibition by Chicago-based artist, Mayumi Lake. In this calm yet emotionally charged photographic narrative, Lake traces her family history back some sixty years and revisits her childhood fantasy of bringing back her grandfathers who were killed in combat during WWII.
In Ex Post Facto, rural landscapes evoke memories of battlefields, and female portraits pay tribute to those who suffered the loss of their loved ones. Panoramic green fields and untamed woods suggest the epic scale of destruction and sacrifice, while dimly illuminated women (portrayed by the artist) express subtle but complex moods and emotions -aggression, lamentation, resignation, hope, and longing.
Ex Post Facto raises questions about the possibility of reconciling personal pain and loss by imagining that events that have already occurred can be reversed or altered retrospectively. Although it is autobiographical, the series avoids being self-serving. With a bird’s-eye view, the work spans three generations of women in the artist’s family. In portraits of 1940’s Girl Scouts, Lake portrays herself as idealistic youths who can rescue their grandfathers who never came back. These girls are by-products of Henry Darger-ish fantasies of the artist. In other images, Lake plays her mother and her grandmother: a teenager from the 1950’s reads a letter her mother wrote but never sent to her father stationed abroad; a young wife holds a husband’s combat helmet that was never recovered.
Originally from Osaka, Japan, Mayumi Lake studied photography at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (BFA, 1997 and MFA, 2000), the Rhode Island School of Design (1997-98), and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2003). Since 1997 Lake’s work has been exhibited at MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, the Institute of Contemporary Art, London, Fotografie Forum International, Frankfurt, Art In General, and the Asia Society, New York. Her work was also recently exhibited in Brescia (Italy), Munich (Germany), and Bangkok (Thailand). Her critically acclaimed “Poo-Chi” series was published as a monograph by the Nazraeli Press in 2002. Lake’s last show at M.Y. Art Prospects, My Idol, was selected as “Best In Show” by R.C. Baker for The Village Voice in 2006.