Eat or be eaten has been the law of nature since the dawn of time. The innate human desire to survive has always been a part of our genetic makeup. However, in recent years, our biggest threats may come from within our own species. The upcoming solo exhibition of Japanese artist Saki Fujikawa in Paris, France, will showcase a series of food-themed oil paintings that reflect how the ‘eat or be eaten’ mentality fits in today’s society. Additionally, the exhibition aims to inspire visitors to meditate on the incomprehensibility and infinite love that arises from individuals’ inevitable cycle of ‘eating’ and ‘being eaten’ in order to coexist with others.
The act of eating takes on two meanings in Fujikawa’s paintings: the consumption of nutrients for physical nourishment and the intake of information for mental stimulation. Fujikawa’s heavy texturing and layering techniques mirror society’s desperation and insatiable hunger for stimulation. The impulse to insert our opinions into current happenings by labeling them as right or wrong seems to be just as critical for survival as the basic sustenance needs in modern-day society. Similar to how fast food is widely favoured for its speed and affordability, Fujikawa believes that people nowadays prefer simple and easily understandable information as it gives them a sense of satisfaction when they can comprehend things quickly. On the other hand, the art of slowing down, contemplating uncertainties, and carefully observing them without hastily drawing conclusions has become increasingly rare in our fast-paced world that values speed above all else.
Perhaps staying busy is a way to calm our fluctuating emotions or alleviate our fears. The reality we cannot escape is that on some days, new information, opportunities and answers will be served to us like a delicious meal. At other times, we become the food that awaits to be shredded apart and feasted upon by others. Fujikawa believes that the inextricable emptiness that comes with knowing that everything will end someday would cause one to question one’s identity and purpose in life. This contemplation brings them face to face with the realisation that they are much more fragile than they previously believed. Only then will they come to terms with the fact that the world does not provide easy or immediate answers to life’s most profound questions. Life is too complex to be categorised as ‘eat or be eaten’ or ‘right or wrong’; for us to accomplish what we want, it may not necessarily be at the expense of others.
From the cutting board to the bottom of a stomach forces us to confront what has been sitting in the pit of our stomach all this time. Is it pride? Fear? Our dreams and aspirations? We may feel a sense of dread about what will remain in our gut forever, but the truth is that we value it more than anyone else.