Satoyama Storehouse

Reiss completed a series when she returned to Canada of still life paintings of artefacts she collected in Japan - antique lamps, dolls, toys, figurines, fans, badminton rackets, ceramics, bric-a-brac. The photo below of her studio shows many of these items which appear again and again in the still lives. The culmination of this series of paintings is "Matsuri" a monumental painting more than 5 feet tall, brimming with movement and symphonic in scope. At the show at the Japan Foundation, these paintings were shown together with the objects themselves.

"Matusri" oil on canvas, 64 x 68 inches

“This final and largest work is the culmination of my Japanese still life series. It is like the grand finale of a fireworks display.

The objects on my still life table in my studio in Toronto had been accumulating for several years- dolls from garage sales in Kentucky and Alabama, toys from New York flea markets and China town, kewpies from different corners of the globe, all giving way to the vibrant company of the objects I acquired in Japan. Dangling and expanding paper and wood fish from the hundred yen store, 40’s Tanabata festival mannequins, 1920’s plaster statuettes, lacquer ware.

It was with a bittersweet feeling that I dismantled the still life table to bring some of the objects to the show. It represented a body of art that I worked on for the last 21 months.” -Vivian Reiss

Reiss' studio in Toronto showing many of the objects that are depicted in the paintings.

35 inches x 42 inches, oil on canvas

35 inches x 42 inches, oil on canvas

35 inches x 42 inches, oil on canvas

35 inches x 42 inches, oil on canvas

There are several more paintings in the series

The objects collected from around Japan, including “dollar” stores, the Kyoto flea market, and a small town called Takayama.

Takayama Junk Store

“On the Outskirts of Takayama there is a junkstore that we took four irresistible trips to. The main business of the store seemed to be blackening ropes, the object being making new iroris look old.

The rest of the shop, housed in an enormous shed, seemed to need no artificial aging. Instead, the renewing qualities of soap and water plus wresting the objects from their clutter, dust, and mold is what was needed to give them value.

Only some of the objects seemed to be of value to the blackened and wizened owner. The piles of dishes, wedding lacquer, and most baskets were given as service with the payment of a few choice items.

Thus objects of Japanese life, some forgotten and some still in use, entered the vocabulary of my still lifes.”

Obuse Lanterns

”We went to Obuse where they have a fascinating museum, all about Japanese lighting. I was inspired to collect lanterns and their boxes. There were so many forms of lanterns, lighting, lighting implements, shown alongside works of art in which the lanterns- objects of daily use- were captured.”

-Vivian Reiss