Frankie Cihi


My palette is colorful and bright, and I’m obsessed with Japanese textiles



Frankie Chi could go on an on when it comes to Japan and its people, for whom, she says, ‘daily life is governed by changes in nature’.

The Japanese-American artist knows what she’s talking about: she’s lived both in Tokyo, Japan and in New York, in the U.S.

The changing of the season, and hence the passage of time, is a culturally defined experience for Frankie.





‘Unlike in America where you would eat Turkey for Thanksgiving or eggs during Easter, you would eat what’s fresh during a particular season’, she says. ‘Additionally, there are many paintings in Japanese art history that make seasonal references. Kachofugetsu, for example, is a style of painting that illustrates a type of flower, bird, wind, and moon that pertain to a specific season’. She continues: ‘Culturally, Japanese people spend time outdoors to appreciate changes in nature. Hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, for example, is a very significant time of the year for Japanese people because it not only celebrates the ephemerality of life, but also indicates a new start in society.’


Frankie looks to Japan often when it comes to her work as an artist, for the murals and paintings she creates. She masters different styles for these, and has ‘a couple of ongoing signatures’: ‘my Floral Coral patterns, Organic Symmetry drawings, as well as Japanese Pop motifs. My palette is colorful and bright, and I’m obsessed with Japanese textiles.’

Her Organic Symmetry pieces are the ones that incorporate both her Japanese and American heritage the most. These paintings are intended to be symmetrical, but the organic element in them causes them to be ‘inevitably imbalanced’. To Frankie, they show ‘that balance is an ongoing effort; in other words, to be human is to realize your imperfections, but to still wake up the next day towards an ideal or goal. When I want to express my cultural identity more deliberately, I’ll incorporate Japanese textile motifs in my drawings and murals as a visual language to communicate my heritage.’


For Komono, Frankie created just such an Organic Symmetry piece – in a newly created colour called Rainbow Black – because ‘it records my creative process in one sitting’. She explains: ‘since the passage of time becomes a crucial element in approaching the work, I recorded the time I started and finished the piece as a way to dictate my process.’