Setsuko Aihara was born and raised in Japan, and began drawing and painting in her mid-30s while continuing her university teaching career. She worked in Honolulu, Cambridge (Massachusetts), and Cork (Ireland), and now lives in Vienna. After taking a course in painting in the Venetian method, she has since then been self-taught.
As a member of society she is concerned to understand the human condition, and to express images from what she understands or does not understand. Images often come from her dreams. Her concerns range from the philosophical and depth-psychological, and cultural (synthesis of east and west), through the social, environmental, and political (especially the liberation of women), to human emancipation in general.
She is interested in narrative and allegorical paintings, especially the kinds developed in the Renaissance and the Baroque periods, which can still be viable today, since the mythical patterns underlying human behavior don’t significantly change over time.
She is also interested in creating portraits of people, as actors of dramas at various levels. She is deeply moved by the best portraits from the Renaissance period, especially by Titian’s, through which one can feel the presence of the person across a distance of five centuries. Portrait painting fascinates her because it offers the possibility of portraying the sitter’s inner being, not just a record of the person’s appearance. The face is like a doorway to the person, and the eyes windows to the soul.