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The Office Worker's Dream: A Self Portrait

Edward Luper, 'The Office Worker's Dream', aquatint etching, 2023

The second print in the series 'Six Views of Dreams' is in fact a self portrait of myself in an office. It contains many details which I felt maybe should be pointed out in case they are missed. Some artists don't like to explain their work too much, but I simply enjoy sharing what I created; and the ultimate point for any work of true art in my opinion, is to establish a connection with the viewer or audience. Below is a list of the various references and symbols used in my etching.

1) Chinese Blue and White Porcelain

The first thing to mention is that the basic idea, including the curling dream bubble and blue colour is from Chinese porcelain, particularly that of the 17th century.

A scholar dreams of the courtesan Su Xiaoxiao, 17th century, blue and white dish, Shanghai Museum

I encountered these pieces of porcelain from my work at the auction house as a Chinese art specialist. Their depiction with dreams has always fascinated me, and I always wanted to try create something similar but in a modern setting: what would the above dish look like if it was painted today? Rather than a candle, brush and inkstone, the implements on a desk today would be a computer, headset and papers etc.

2) Proust

Chinese porcelain sometimes has poetic inscriptions, and I too wanted to include something, but not a Chinese poem. Instead I included a line from Marcel Proust's In Search of Time Lost:

Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

"Like one who believes that he will be able to taste in reality all the pleasures of the dream"

Proust is notoriously difficult and lengthy to get through, but the above line captured my state succinctly.

3) Cats, Hokusai, and the Tatami Galaxy

In the background you'll notice some postcards, one of Hokusai's Mt Fuji, Lily the Cat with scissors for glasses, and also Akashi from the anime Tatami Galaxy. Akashi is the main heroine from the Tatami Galaxy; an engineering student who is the centre of the protagonist's affections. The anime both in terms of artistry and plot is one of my favourites. The story follows a student at Kyoto University, using parallel universes as a plot device to explore how his life would have differed had he joined a particular student society. But he is disillusioned when the activity does not lead to the idealized "rose-coloured campus life" he dreamed of. The creators of this animation also created the film 'The Night is Short, Walk on Girl', which has had a strong influence on my work. Perhaps I identify closely with the main student character: we both have romantic visions of the world, which reality doesn't match up to, and severely disappoints us.

Akashi from 'The Tatami Galaxy', 2010

My love for Hokusai and cats doesn't need to be reiterated again here, but it should be obvious why they are in the picture. Lily the cat sadly died in a car accident, but I keep a photo of her on my desk. Likewise, Hokusai is always an artistic inspiration to me.

4) The Buddha Bit my Finger

Dreams can also be funny. When I just started to work at the auction house, I had perhaps a prophetic dream of my disappointment and fear of working in a company. I dreamt that I was walking down the storage shelves and noticed a bronze statue of Budai. I reached out go hold the statue but the 'Laughing Buddha' quickly snapped ferociously at my finger and I dropped the statue to the floor. It's rather comical, but probably represented my fear of handling such expensive objects. I have placed a statue of Budai in the corner of my print.

5) Daruma Doll

In Japan, the eyes of Daruma are often blank when sold. The recipient of the doll fills in one eye upon setting a goal or wish, then the other upon fulfilling it. For me therefore, the one-eyed Daruma doll comes to symbolise an unfulfilled wish. When I went to Japan in 2014, I did indeed buy a Daruma doll in the market around Sensoji temple. I still haven't filled in the other eye.

6) Atom Bomb Explosion

Barely noticeable perhaps, is the small picture of a mushroom-shaped A-bomb explosion, beneath the postcard of Fuji. I do in fact have a drawing on my desk of this. Why? I guess I drew it when I was frustrated and to remind me that the world doesn't make sense sometimes; that chaos is a big part of our experience on this world. Perhaps is represents the darker side of my personality, which I keep in a very tiny square.

View of my desk

Please let me know what you think of my print in the comments below.

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1 commentaire

02 nov. 2023

I found your work through a circuitous route of looking up various Japanese woodblock prints. Your work is very beautiful, decorative even, yet contains nothing extra that could be taken away. Do you sell limited edition signed prints? Where can one buy your original work? With admiration, Nika from Toronto, Canada.

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