Vol.18 'own thirty'

Date 2012.12.5
Exhibition Title (period): own thirty (2012.11.30–12.9)
Exhibitor: Yukako Izawa, Kyoko Shindo, Emu Nagasaka, Natsuno Yoshikawa
Participants (titles omitted): Exhibiting artists Nicholas Bastin, Jaime Humphreys
Moderator: Utako Shindo
Documentation: Hiroko Murata

<Natsuno Yoshikawa>
Nicholas: (in relation to the floor piece) Was there an awareness of shrines in the work? The objects which are out of reach inside the structures appear to be some kind of offering.
Yoshikawa: That wasn’t something I was aiming for.
Nagasaka: When considering the materials, do you have some particular fondness for the materials you have used? Also, does the tapestry work (hung on the wall) have a different value for you?
Yoshikawa: There are parts that I like, but as an entire work it is not something I really value. The main point is that the materials are cheap and easy to get hold of, practical, and easy to make.
Izawa: Why have you used Western Shinjuku and the Yamanote line as your theme?
Yoshikawa: I lived in Kanazawa when I was a university student. In experiencing a very different environment from Tokyo, I thought about reconsidering the scenery of Tokyo.
Nagasawa/Izawa: In reviewing the city, what new things have you realized?
Yoshikawa: I have come to consider why it is so crowded. I have come to see it from different viewpoints, and I feel I now have a greater awareness of the place.
Jaime: As an artist, is your standpoint neutral? Is it criticism of civilization, we cannot enter this city, and yet you have included the element of clouds. If it is Shinjuku, I can imagine there would be many places we cannot enter and are unknown to us… How do you want us to read your work?
Yoshikawa: I’m not focusing on the details or structure, but have built this work as a sketch based on things I felt.

<Yukako Izawa>
Nicholas: (in relation to the painting depicting people floating in water) What is happening? It leaves me with the impression that they are floating in amniotic fluid.
Izawa: I’m depicting people existing within amniotic fluid, a world they are seeing before they were born. I want to express the feeling they are soaking rather than drowning.
Nicholas: (in relation to the work next to it) It would perhaps be even more interesting if it were painted on a larger scale. It is beautiful yet like a bad dream. It also resembles veins.
Izawa: Forming the backdrop to this was my giving birth, something which cannot be expressed simply through a beautiful image. I have considered making a larger painting (it would work well with watercolours on a framed piece of paper, for example), but at present there would be technical problems in working with paper big enough to cover the entire visible area before me.
Nagasaka: They are convincing as paintings made before (painting discussed first) and after giving birth (the second painting discussed), leaving you with a very different feeling. In the image created before giving birth, we are faced with the kind of scenery we may have all seen somewhere, a figurative image constructed from what was actually seen in the everyday. The painting after giving birth clearly comes from actual experience which only Izawa can understand. And in the opposite way, its abstract quality is what is interesting and powerful about it.  
Izawa: (in relation to the first painting) In the painting finished while I was pregnant, I imagined the world inside my womb. After the actual experience of giving birth, I tried to depict in the second picture the violent change which occurs when we move from the world inside the womb to the world we are in now.
Utako: It is similar to the scenery which appears on the screen just before you move onto the next stage of a computer game.
Izawa: I don’t usually play video games, so that image doesn’t come to mind, but perhaps the images of trees and buildings seen, and the people I have met are present there in fragments.
Shindo: If there is a limit in the size of the paper, can you envisage painting directly onto the wall?
Izawa: I have tried before, but I realized that no matter how difficult it is, what I want to do is convey the sense of a world within one picture. But if there were a suitable space, it might be possible to paint directly on site.

<Kyoko Shindo>
Nicholas: Who are these characters and what are they doing? Without thinking, this question naturally occurs. The way you have painted them resembles the characters which appear in detailed picture scrolls.
Kyoko: I’m aware of images from the Edo period, materials from Japanese painting, natural pigments, and blurring techniques, and there are definitely these elements included in my work. What I am depicting here are the actions and movements of people I encountered while I was hospitalized for 30 days.
Jaime: The use of colour is interesting.
Shindo: I apply gradation by adjusting the amount of the paint used.
Jaime: I wonder if, in the same way that you have some kind of relationship with each of these characters through the work, there is also a better way of showing these pictures so that the viewer can also form a closer connection with each person. The current layout may result in people simply walking past without paying closer attention. Would it be possible to present them in a book format, for example?
Hiroko: I think it would be possible to try a different approach here after this critique session, or try out ideas gained here at Youkobo in a future exhibition.
Shindo: Perhaps if I made the characters smaller and presented them exactly like a scroll, I could draw people closer to the surface of the paintings.  
Nagasaka: Your previous work left me with the impression that they were symbolic of something, but after experiencing a serious injury and the resulting hospitalization, it seems as if the distance from actual society has shrunk a little. The bodies drawn in your work now feel as if they are concrete “characters”.
Nicholas: The characters appearing in the work have a strong narrative feel to them, as if part of a rich tapestry.
Izawa: Previously, you depicted characters without clothing, and the workings of your mind were more visible. In this work, you have started to depict other types of characters, while the pictorial form of expression is similar. Was your injury the cause of this?
Shindo: In experiencing something different from the everyday, my interest in previous work of expressing something universal lessened, and I started to look at life itself rather than distinct figures and objects. My life in the hospital involved having to be with patients I didn’t want to be near to, in the internal public space of the hospital.

Emu Nagasaka
Nagasaka: I come from a background in the industrial arts, so the materials I employ in my work are a very important element. I drew pictures in my junior high and high school days, but at university I had the experience of not being able to find my own expression.
In my work, there exist both the elements of drawing pictures and of working with materials. (the wall drawings are not pictures as such, but rather a kind of dialogue in relation to working with the steel wool). I’m not creating work but rather it might be better to say that I am investigating my relationship to the materials. 
Nicholas: The wall plates bear a resemblance to photos, as if they were depicting people close to you or natural scenes.
Nagasaka: In drawing and making, a sense of mystery is brought to the surface, causing a change within me. This is what is interesting for me.
Nicholas: They leave the impression that there are two or three layers within each picture, bringing out a delicate sense of the materials used.
Izawa: (plate) I think these plates are very much recognizable as your work.
Nagasaka: (in relation to the wall work) From when I was a student, I used the technique of wall installation within a space to convey what I wanted to express. Here there is a yearning for nature, a wish for peace in the everyday. In weaving the steel wool without the use of tools, here it might be said that I am entrusting myself to the everyday. Knitting or weaving as part of an everyday routine; it is this kind of familiar action and material that I employ here.
Shindo: But I also sense the anxiety or uncertainty latent within the everyday.
Nicholas: I didn’t realize that it was steel wool. It leaves the impression it is a very unforgiving material, and yet rich at the same time. Different from wool, it has a visual impact as a material which doesn’t leave you with a sense of the domestic.
Hiroko: This is something I have felt with other artists also, but it is often the case that when an artist persistently wishes to use a material or create a certain work, there appears to be a strong expression of searching. In addition, the material used here leaves a strong impression in knowing that it will become weak or break when it becomes rusty. I do feel that perhaps the finished work is of sufficient size in the space not to warrant showing the drawing studies (plates) next to it.

About the project
Shindo: It feels honest, genuine.
Nicholas: Even though all the artists are of the same generation in their thirties, the scenes are of very different individuals.
Nagasaka: While feeling there are few chances to show work in the way that you wish to after graduating from university, I feel it was a good experience to have a chance to organize and put on this exhibition. 

Editors comment
The reflection of “realizations” gathered from the everyday in the creative expressions of these artists is one of the characteristics of the work appearing in this exhibition, and the perfect match of this theme with the exhibition title is of particular note. The session was an opportunity for the artists to recognize, or refresh the various subjects of their work, which each have various biases toward materials, themes, or the act of production itself. With the appropriate raising of issues in relation to each work by participants who had no awareness of the exhibition and artists beforehand, it once again became an affirmation of the benefits of the critique session in providing a place to discuss the work shown at Youkobo in an objective manner.

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