Into: Eri Wakiyama’s Soothing and Sinister Portraits

Published August 6, 2019

“Into” is a series dedicated to objects, artworks, garments, exhibitions, and all orders of things that we are into—and there really isn’t a lot more to it than that. Today: Mark Burger mixes and mingles with Eri Wakiyama’s weird and winsome portraits at her debut solo show, Crawling Drawling.

I’M INTO Eri Wakiyama’s portraits, because I want to live in a world where doe-eyed girls sneer over bowls of smiley-face stickers and fields of flowers liquefy in slow motion. This and more can be seen inside Wakiyama’s debut solo show, Crawling Drawling, now on view until August 17th at Procell Vintage in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Wakiyama’s work has already broken through the stratosphere of fashion, as seen throughout her collaborations with Miu Miu, Supreme, Alyx, and Calvin Klein, incorporating her idiosyncratic style into their collections and campaigns. Though many of the portraits are small in scale, their beguiling gaze beckons viewers to look past the initial realism as it quickly melts into the nonsensical and sardonic.

Wakiyama’s spindly, wide-eyed muses are sinister and surreal, saccharine at first glance yet cynical upon further inspection. Like fragments of a dream, her portraits fuse reality and fantasy in ways both delightful and deranged. Though drawn with a childlike frivolity, the images nonetheless hum of a peculiar anxiety that is strangely sympathetic, both unsettling and soothing. Her portraits are snapshots of a dreamworld where tears melt into ice cream cones, and cigarettes burn on the tips of tongues and atop collarbones. Crawling Drawling imagines an alternate reality, where pink-haired girls can eat daisies like eggs Benedict and stare into space in eternal peace and quiet.