The conceptual attraction that the free and baroque variations of the Rorschach inkblot exert after Duchamp or Warhol leads Kimiko Yoshida to realize that this "autopoietic" production, which generates and specifies its own transformation, allows her to bridge the gap between photography and painting by extending photography by means of painting. But above all, by authorizing herself to paint on her own photographic self-portraits (quasi-monochromes printed on canvas and entitled Paintings by antiphrasis), the photographer undertakes to paint the painting. She finds in the Rorschach inkblot to confirm and develop the reflection begun in 2001 on the conditions of possibility of representation. We see the ambition of which his explorations are sustained.

The curiosity of the artist is not only about the respective otherness of painting and photography. But to paint thus on his images commits K. Y. to specify for her own account the meanings of abstraction and figuration. The RorschachYoshida series simultaneously extend and undo these self-portraits where the artist paints herself the same color as the background: the blots of painting confirm and contradict all together this entrenchment of color, this call to abstraction, this momentum in the subtraction that are so characteristic of her work.

With this series of Rorschah, the art of KY is indeed engaged in a double contradiction with double relaxation, in a double fold could we say: first, on the canvas that serves as a support, a printed photograph is called Painting: first oxymoron (the word means "spiritual under an apparent stupidity"); then, the painting is painted in a fold of the photograph, there where the abstraction is folded back on the figure: second oxymoron.

In this title Painting, what the word designates and what it means are two separate, contradictory registers. Likewise, what the image shows is cleaved from what it means. To give Painting as a title to a photograph is to contradict the word and the thing, to contradict what is said and what is shown, to unite two opposites. Painting thus manifests this gap between what the image gives to see and what it wants to signify, the flaw by which - always - the image leaves something to be desired. The image - any image - always leaves something to be desired and that is precisely why it is viewed: it leaves the viewer unfulfilled.

"To leave something to be desired" is said of what causes desire. The image is what the eyes confess not to be satisfied, she is the one who does not keep its promises - and the gaze, eroticized, asks for more. For it is in the absence of the figure that the gaze attaches itself, and it is in this deficiency that it is constituted as desire. We must admit that it is precisely on the incompleteness of the image that the desire to see is founded. It is in this lack in the image, it is there in what is missing in the image that the desire to see is originated, it is there that point which escapes and which fascinates and raises the glance.

What the image gives to see is certainly not reduced to what it shows and what it shows is not all its meaning. This gap captivates the gaze and we realize that it is the very defect of its object that supports the desire to see. What the look in the image is not in the image. Because what the viewer wants to see is not what is shown: what he wants is beyond the image. In its relation to the image and its native defect, desire enters into an essential relation with an invisible but decisive absence in the heart of the figure. The image is that lack structure where something can appear. She looks like something beyond what he wants to see.

The gaze likes in the image the gap that captivates it. He meets there a gap around which the figure is organized. As if the gaze always desired something else, as if it desired something that remains without representation and around which every image keeps turning: an infigurable, a radically heterogeneous thing that any representation seeks - and misses - to recover.


The RorschachYoshida play this discord between what the image is and what the gaze would like to see. In spite of this vertigo of blots and this excess of paint, in spite of these appendages of matter and these excesses of color, in spite of this in-addition which supplements here the image, there is the impossible which can not and will not be represented. There is something impossible and no representation can go against it. This impossible digs into the heart of the image a hole that makes its enjoyment incomplete: the painting that adds to the image here marks the edge of this gap which alienates the representation and projects the essential out of it even.

The RorschachYoshida open the way to an extension of the painting outside itself, to an opening of the painting beyond the limits of painting, which then lets glimpse an infinity that exceeds what it represents.

In these compositions, where there is no more hierarchical ordering of the form, the pattern, or the figure in the space of the color that constitutes the surface of the painting, the artist's face tends to disappear directly into the folds of the painting, to disappear in the plane of the motive, to become immaterialized in the abstraction of the coulure, to vanish in the rough surface of the stain. In doing so, the artist does not only prolong her investigations of self-disappearance and the effacement of the figure, but also opens her art to a beyond representation, to a "formless form" which is the invisible heart of the image, the infinite and unnamed heart of every image.

The conceptual protocol of these images, their principle of repetition and their logic of abstraction obviously carry these self-portraits beyond the problematic of self-representation. It is by this aspiration to abstraction, to the infinity of color, it is by this aim towards the infigured that this series of Rorschach imposes itself simultaneously as supplement and as erasure.

It is here, at the crossroads of two cultures, between photography and painting, between figure and abstraction, that an aesthetic is invented, in a thought that analyzes and brings the painting into a dialectical relationship between minimalism and baroqueism: subtraction against saturation, effacement against overflow, stripping against seduction - the immaterial plus the sensuality, the emptiness plus the inessential, the lack plus the sumptuousness.

This dialectic between abstraction and figuration brings together all the rhythms, profusions and baroque worries - enchanted, unappeased, twirling, vertiginous, tormented, tumultuous movements that make the baroque style of this dancing style. Spurts, elevations, collapses, unfinished shoots, leaps, runoff, unstable metamorphoses, scatterings, swirls, coils, dispersions in foam, transverse aspirations, irregular reflections, overflows, cascading breaks, enveloping spirals, sinuosities, twists, volutes, intertwining, turbulence, oscillations, divergent vanishing lines, continuous tournaments, sudden ruptures...

The almost-nothing plus the vertigo: this fragility that makes the figure weakened and as annihilated, this erasure that reveals the image to itself in its darkness, lead to an art of clarity, to a luminous experience where the absence is more privation or negation, but affirmation and splendor. The silence, the incompleteness or the absence are no longer simply a failure of the image or a lack in the image, but ostentation and bursting forth, a revelation of a meaning forever decompleted by the image.

What is called revelation is exacxtly so: the invisible become appearance. When everything is concealed, the image finds its condition there, but tends to disappear there. The image supposes the absence and the erasure of what it represents, it identifies itself with the rest which remains in the absence. What makes the image possible is the limit where it fades. This is the ambiguity that it displays and conceals, the ambiguity which is the substance on which it continues to affirm things in their disappearance, it shows what remains when there is nothing.


To cover one's portrait with a Rorschach inkblot is to enter into the affirmation of the negation in which the disappearance threatens. It is to engage in the risk of erasure, where the infigurable reigns. To represent oneself is to disappear under an image and thus to come into contact with absence becoming an image. To disappear in color is to make the color which alludes to a figure become an allusion to what is without a figure. The blot in the Rorschach, that is this form drawn on the absence, then becomes the informed presence of this absence. The painting of the Rorschach becomes the opaque opening on what is when there is nothing but the void.

Why does painting have so much to do with this essential absence, this absence that in itself only disappears? That an image captivates us, it happens when it concentrates in it the blinding and inexhaustible brilliance of what is missing in it, this ontological lack which is present in every image and which provokes the desire to see, the capture of the gaze, the fascination. When the gaze is captivated, what he sees in the image is not what he looks at: what catches him, fascinates him not in the image he looks at, but in what lacking and which fixes the cause of fascination in a beyond what the image gives to see.

These RorschachYoshida undeniably capture the viewer: the fascination is fundamentally linked to the neutral presence without contour of an indeterminate opacity and without figure within the figure. This absence, when it is captured by the gaze, produces a kind of anxiety and attraction, causes the desire to see. One then feels that with the aspiration to disappear in color, the absence becomes visible, the invisible becomes appearance and it is this revealed absence which erotizes the gaze, in the endless search for what is lacking in the picture. We see here how the image of the Rorschah is always in default with respect to itself - and that is why we want it and we look at it.

What gives value to the image is precisely what it missing: what gives it all its value is precisely that it leaves the gaze unsatisfied. And this is, again, what the RorschachYoshida argue: the image, in essence, leaves something to be desired. It is here, in this essential defect, the impasse in which all experience as an artist falls, and it is here, in this essential defect, that the work is realized. It is because the image has the power to make beings disappear, to make them appear as missing, to make them appear in their absence, to give them an appearance which is only that of a disappearance, the appearance of a presence that only says absence. The RorschachYoshida show that the image, having the power to summon the appearance of absence, also has the power to disappear there, to fade away in the midst of what it accomplishes, to cancel by proclaiming the fullness of what it shows and wipes out without end.


The image, which is itself only the appearance of what has disappeared, performs a destructive act in all similar to death: the image substitutes for the living being a corpse that resembles the being - this is the central point. "My art has always been about disappearing, I always wanted to disappear in my images. My Rorschach are images of the disappearance where the disappearing figure gives the work its meaning. The lack and the loss take shape in images where the figure of the body is about to fade, to disappear splendidly by fading into the color."

With RorschachYoshida, the disappearance of the figure appears in a kind of sovereign carelessness: the painting makes visible how invisible the invisible remains invisible. The artist has just made a deal with the reversed negative. She says she wants to move without pathos towards the disappearance of her own figure: "The one who is represented disappears, is no longer me, is another, so that when ''I'' represents me, I need disappear, since I'm not the one I'm showing."

The work of art can be baroque or minimal, but what she has to say is always the infigurable, an infigurable invisible. However, she names the infigured as unnameable, she says the invisible in her, and it is wrapped, concealed in the veil of the work itself that the infigurable is shown as the spring of the visible. Thus the image is the veil that makes the infigurable visible, it makes it visible by the veil and the concealment. The Rorschach then disappears before the invisible he calls, it is the silence that brings to speech the non-figurable that speaks in him. The infigurable, being the invisible and the indistinct, is what appears as an image, while remaining hidden.

RorschachYoshida represents the fight against darkness and silence making the guardians of what is hidden from gaze, of what withdraws from the image. The work, by giving in a series of blots and portraits an image to the infigurable, but the infigurable as unnamed, represents what is invisible in a figure, its immaterial, before figuring herself as a figure of disappearance. RorschachYoshida arises from this infigurable point. The artist asks: “Can painting show what makes an image in it without showing what is missing in it as an image? How does the image make image in the image?”

From then on, K. Y. approaches art as a beginning returned on the native lack, a beginning towards the impossible to represent where the image risks disappearing. Her Rorschach are the language in which the disappearance is expressed and where this disappearance itself never ceases to appear. This suspends in the disappearance, this lack in the figure is all that from now on is given to see.

It is there that we must recognize the radical reversal that the RorschachYoshida perform on the inverted scale of the law of desire, by making loss a jubilation, without knowledge a revelation, the absence a fascination, from disappearance a game, from erasure to enlightenment. A jubilant reversal that makes lack in the image the center of the desire to see.

Jean-Michel Ribettes.