“Whatever you think, think the opposite” is an expression that is often heard in Japan. This island seems, in many ways, like an isolated world far away from the rest of society.

Japan has cultivated a certain image in the western world, a conception that is in part influenced by a particular Japanese art genre called ukiyo-e. Ukiyo-e painting focuses on figures engaged in enjoyable activities in beautiful landscape settings; the genre pays special attention the affairs and fashion of the day in Japan. Western artists like James Whistler and Edgar Degas spoke openly of the influence that Japanese ukiyo-e painters had on their work.

Left: Bamboo Yards, Kyōbashi Bridge, Hiroshige, c. 1857–58. Right: Nocturne: Blue and Gold – Old Battersea Bridge, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, c. 1872–75.

The popular “pictures of the floating world” created by masters like Hiroshige and Hokusai brought to life an otherworldly, almost unreal image of Japan in the west. In this series, I tried to seek out the modern beauty that Japan has to offer while, like other artists before me, taking inspiration from Japan’s earlier pictures.

—Maroesjka Lavigne

This project will be shown by Galerie Wilms at the castle gardens in Arcen from July 7th-October 1, 2017. Visit Lavigne’s website for more information.

Editors’ Note: Maroesjka Lavigne is a member of the LensCulture Network, an initiative we launched with the idea of offering talented, accomplished photographers a place to showcase their work on a global stage while also giving them a place to share, learn and engage with one another. The LensCulture Network began with a small number of hand-picked members, and we are very excited to watch it grow and evolve.

If you enjoyed this article, we’d also recommend these previous features: You Are More Than Beautiful, Lavigne’s documentation of the overwhelming social pressure towards looking beautiful in Seoul; In Praise of Shadows, a meditation on the unique aesthetics of Japan; and The Restoration Will, Mayumi Suzuki’s moving tribute to her parents, who lost their lives in the 2011 tsunami.