Japanese artist makes blind people see her paintings

By Mai Nhat    February 15, 2019 | 07:00 pm PT
Japanese artist Liku Maria Takahashi is holding in HCMC an exhibition of paintings that blind people can feel and smell.

The event, which opened Thursday at the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts as part of the Maris Art Project Asia Tour, showcases paintings in the Maris art style, a version of sand paintings blind people can appreciate.

The main theme of the exhibition this time is world peace. Most of the works are of national flags and there are also simple objects like flowers and zebras. At the exhibition Thursday, dozens of blind people were helped by volunteers to go around.

This style is created by Takahashi, which is the first painting method in the world to help visually impaired people feel colors and images with their sense of smell and feeling.

In Maris, the brightness of colors is determined by the size of sand grains and specified in the Maris world standard table (invented in 2009 and patented in Japan). The size of sand grains represents the color brightness  while the scent of sand shows color.

Sand and rock grains are divided into 10 sizes representing the different level of color brightness in a painting.

The grains are attached to a canvas and soaked in herbal oil, helping blind people envisage the content through the scent. For instance, purple is associated with lavender, and orange with the smell of the orange fruit.

A student was touching a painting of a flag. Photo acquired by VnExpress

A student was touching a painting of a flag. Photo acquired by VnExpress

Many were excited at being able to "view" pictures with their hands and nose.

Thanh of Binh Thanh District said: "When I touch the grains of sand on the painting with the help of volunteers, I can immediately imagine the country's flag. I am happy I can still enjoy paintings."

Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, former executive board member of the International Blind Association, said blind people rarely have the opportunity to enjoy and feel the art.

"Many people think that their eyes can’t see so they can’t see pictures, but Takahashi's series of paintings have helped visually impaired people see like others."

The exhibition will remain open until February 17. It will be Takahashi’s second event in Vietnam.

Takahashi graduated from the Tokyo College of Sculpture and Modeling in 1993. In 2010 she invented the Maris painting style.

She has organized exhibitions in countries like the Czech Republic, Italy, France, and Sweden.

Volunteers were helping the blind people to enjoy the paintings. 

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