Art of be­ing a pop idol

Teenage singer has an­other love in her life – art.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - PEOPLE - By IKUKO KITA­GAWA

TO­DAY, many Ja­panese en­ter­tain­ers have mul­ti­ple skills to add value to their pro­fes­sion. For Ayaka Wada, a mem­ber of teenage pop idol group S/mileage, art is her favourite sub­ject, re­gard­less of whether it will even­tu­ally be­come her sec­ond ca­reer.

“You can’t be friends with the paint­ing if you don’t show in­ter­est in the sub­ject or open up your mind to it. You’ll learn noth­ing from the paint­ing if you do that,” said the 19-yearold idol, adding that she vis­its ex­hi­bi­tions in smart at­tire to show re­spect for the art.

Early this year, Wada vis­ited Ukiyo-e: A Jour­ney Through the Float­ing World, which is at the Tokyo Met­ro­pol­i­tan Tokyo-Edo Mu­seum.

Wada is the leader of the six-mem­ber group S/mileage. The group made its de­but in 2010 as “the Ja­panese idol group who wear the short­est skirts” un­der Hello!Project – a group of fe­male vo­cal­ists and idol groups such as Morn­ing Musume pro­duced by vet­eran record pro­ducer Tsunku. S/mileage won the Ja­pan Record Award for Best New Artist in 2010 and has re­leased 15 sin­gles since the group made its ma­jor de­but.

Wada has trained in dancing and singing since she was nine years old af­ter win­ning an au­di­tion. She be­came in­ter­ested in art when she was a high school stu­dent and, since then, has taught her­self about the sub­ject and cho­sen to ma­jor in art his­tory at col­lege.

Her unique in­sight and sen­si­bil­ity to­wards ap­pre­ci­at­ing art grabbed the at­ten­tion of an edi­tor and a pro­ducer who be­lieved that she could write some­thing sub­stan­tial about art. Cur­rently, Wada writes a se­ries of art re­views ti­tled Otome No Kaiga An­nai (A Maiden’s Guide To Paint­ings) on the web­site of PHP Inc, in­clud­ing re­views of such artists as Ver­meer and Monet.

Wada pro­vides re­views of her favourite artists and their work through ques­tions and an­swers she writes her­self. Her writ­ing style is easy to fol­low for those who are not re­ally sure how to ap­pre­ci­ate paint­ings.

A collection of her art re­views, in­clud­ing those posted on­line, was pub­lished as a book in March.

“I wasn’t sure if it’s OK for me to write such a col­umn,” Wada said. “I’ve read that kind of col­umn in my stud­ies, so I just couldn’t be­lieve that I’d be writ­ing art re­views. But at the same time, I thought I could do it as I have the sup­port of many people.”

Love at first sight

Her in­ter­est in art started three years ago – it was love at first sight – at JR Tokyo Sta­tion. Wada was early for a meet­ing that day and was look­ing to kill time. That’s when a poster for a Manet ex­hi­bi­tion caught her eye. So she ca­su­ally stopped by. And she was shocked. “The im­age of paint­ings I had for a long time was that they’re al­ways col­or­ful. But I was shocked to see Manet’s ex­hi­bi­tion filled with black. The Dead Tore­ador was par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive. It was sim­ply a man ly­ing down. I was overwhelmed by the fact that this kind of scary mo­tif can be the sub­ject of a paint­ing. I could rarely find colourful, cheer­ful paint­ings in Manet’s work,” she re­called. “Then I thought ‘Why is that?’ From that mo­ment, I grad­u­ally be­came in­ter­ested in art,” she said.

She was in­trigued by dark, somber paint­ings for a while and be­came fas­ci­nated with Rem­brandt.

“At that time, I was sim­ply view­ing art and had no idea that some have a re­li­gious con­text be­hind them. I broad­ened the fo­cus of my in­ter­est and be­gan lik­ing Im­pres­sion­ism,” she said, adding that her in­ter­est now has spread to Ja­panese art.

Spread­ing the fun of art

De­spite her busy sched­ule, Wada vis­its ex­hi­bi­tions as much as pos­si­ble and even goes to the same one again if she re­ally likes it.

“It’s not hard to make time for it. No prob­lem,” she said. “I love art and want to keep study­ing it.” She said be­ing an idol is not a bur­den, but “rather, there are things I can do as an idol to make more people more aware of the ap­peal of art. I should take ad­van­tage of my ca­reer,” she said.

Wada may have a chance to per­form abroad some day, just like other se­nior sen­pai Hello!Project mem­bers who have wowed over­seas fans in Paris and Bangkok.

“I never in­tended to jug­gle my ca­reer and write art col­umns. How­ever, in both my ca­reers, I find it can be re­ally dif­fi­cult to put my emo­tion and ex­cite­ment into words (to com­mu­ni­cate to the au­di­ence ef­fec­tively). I need to prac­tise con­vey­ing my feel­ings ef­fec­tively. It’ll be great if I can in­tro­duce Ja­panese art when I get a chance to per­form abroad,” Wada said. – The Ja­pan News/ Asia News Net­work ayaka Wada re­mem­bers be­ing shocked by Manet’s


and likes Im­pres­sion­ist art.

thedead tore­ador,

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