Daruma

Background on the Daruma Doll:

The Daruma doll, also known as a Dharma doll, is a hollow, round, Japanese traditional doll. Daruma dolls are seen as a symbol of perseverance and good luck, making them a popular gift of encouragement. The eyes of Daruma are often blank when sold. Monte A. Greer, author of Daruma Eyes, described the “oversized symmetrical round blank white eyes” as a means to keep track of goals or big tasks and motivate them to work to the finish. The recipient of the doll fills in one eye upon setting the goal, then the other upon fulfilling it. In this way, every time they see the one-eyed Daruma, they recall the goal. One explanation how this custom started says that in order to motivate Daruma-san to grant your wish, you promise to give him full sight once the goal is accomplished. This practice might also have something to do with the “enlightenment”, the ideal attainment of Buddhism. This custom has led to a phrase in Japanese translated as “Both Eyes Open”. Referencing to ‘opening’ the second eye, it expresses the realization of a goal.
Darumas are still usually made of papier-mâché, have a round shape, are hollow, and weighted at the bottom in a way that it will always return to an upright position when tilted over. In English, this roly-poly style is called a “tumbler doll,” and in Japanese it is called “okiagari.” meaning to get up (oki) and arise (agari). This characteristic has come to symbolize the ability to have success, overcome adversity, and recover from misfortune.
Daruma is often illustrated alongside the phrase “Nanakorobi Yaoki”, translated to mean seven times down, Eight times up.
At the end of the year, all the Daruma are brought back to the temple they were purchased from for a traditional burning ceremony.

Artist rationale:
The Application of acrylic paint over the face of the photographic print creates a mask -physically and secondarily applied to the subject. This application of the painted mask hides the face, the identity, the personality of the subject and acts as a bandage to suppress the wound beneath. The eye; the window to the soul and the important symbol of enlightenment of the Daruma, peers out from behind.
The act of ripping or distressing the photograph -then applying to another photograph creates a tangible cut and a physical tear or border, creating a distinct and visually obvious duality to the individuality of the subject.

The Daruma is a symbol of good luck, a spiritual and supernatural talisman, now embodied by the artist, this secondary identity, or phantom identity, acts as a violent, empowering and ethereal secondary persona to the softer, sadder and more vulnerable human side.

DARUMA is not only a self portrait, but a performance, a documented image of the persona the artist, the creator, Matto Lucas has taken on and has become. This struggle, with the ‘real’ and the ‘other’ sees an orifice emerge between the two.

DARUMA is a very personal piece of work in Lucas’ practice and has been nominated for the Metro Gallery Art Award 2011 at Metro Gallery Melbourne.