My fascination and inexplicable connection with Japanese culture inform the narratives in my work. I would find myself lost in the mythology and folklore that attempt to explain that which is unexplainable. Japanese Yokai (monsters), Kami (dieties) and characters such as Toshitaka Nabata’s “Kobito” who perform the actions that fill us with mystery, attempt to articulate my investigation of the human condition – a point of departure for self-discovery. This is an invite to subconscious, juxtaposing a Western contemporary upbringing and traditional Japanese influences among my dreams and perception of reality.
In order to understand our inner selves and gain creative insight, we often mine our nighttime reveries. Our experiences in the waking world and how they manifest in our dreaming state can prove a most vulnerable expression. Ubiquitous influence of our conscious and subconscious co-exist among our dreams and reality, to which particular traits are revealed based on the circumstances in which we find ourselves. These images are an exploration of those traits and an interrogation of my own circumstances. From the sexual and emotional abuse I endured, to a series of unfortunate decisions in my adolescence; my dreams, my process, and my craft, remain my cathartic escape.
Elena Øhlander (b. 1988) is an illustrator and painter, currently working in Jacksonville, Florida. She attained her BFA in Photography in 2014, exhibiting her work at national galleries and museums.
Her focus is in illustration that explores identity, gender issues, space, individuality, and pop culture with a Japanese context. Her main influences are Taiyo Matsumoto, Hayao Miyazaki, Yayoi Kusama, and Yoshitomo Nara.