Some Thoughts on ‘Reception’ by Maiko

I melted into the dream as if I had always been there. I knew where I had come from; I knew where I was going.
-Chelsie Shakespeare

Reception is a small, unassuming work. I might have missed it had the gallery director not pointed it out. This was before the titles had been put up mind you, and she asked me what I saw. 

Ah, well, it appears to be a wedding procession. Or children playing at it. But each child has a different gaze. 

These gazes were what made the painting to me. 

But before going into details on the gazes, another oddity struck me. This procession wraps around – the bride holds her own dress as she marches forward. This struck me as a cyclical view of life. If not presenting a variation of reincarnation, where we forget our previous goes and must relearn our roles as children, then as us walking in the footsteps of those who came before us, doomed to reliving their mistakes. 


And this is where the gazes might become a narrative of sorts. The girl at the head of the procession looks forward, melancholy writ large on her face. She is at the edge. Is she sad because the end is near, tired because of the long journey, or is she weary of the impending restart she knows is coming. Perhaps she is a mix of Cassandra and Sisyphus, doomed to see the repetition of life yet never be believed. While she appears to be leading the party, she knows that she is actually following them. 


Just behind her is a boy with purpose and goal in his eyes. He is looking forward to the reception and he intends to get everyone there. The white carnation is a sign of this passion. While he might be the bridegroom, I feel he is with Cassandra. They both look forward, but also there is something special about the bride. I’ll get to that last. 


Taking up the rear of the procession is another couple. The girl looks down, perhaps burdened with the worries of the here and now. Each step occupies the entirety of the world to her. She is the polar opposite of Cassandra in the lead. Likewise, the boy taking the rear is the opposite of the boy in the lead. This boy is both a day-dreaming laggard and the visionary ahead of his time. His sites are not on the tedious road ahead but in the realm of fantasy and hopeful beginnings. The lilies he peers behind are a symbol of beginnings and rebirth. Are they a sign of hope, or a sign of forgetfulness?

The bride is dressed in blue. This has strong allusions to the Virgin Mary. She holds her own dress train and seems to be the the most understanding of the group. But most importantly, she is gazing at the viewer directly. It’s as if she is telling us that we too are marching in circles toward goals we will never achieve, but this is just the nature of things. 

The painting as a whole is both fanciful and world weary. Which of the wedding party are you?


Reception (34.5cm x 34.7cm)


Maiko, 2008

Cha, Eun-Young collection

2,000,000 won

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