The good folks at Hi-Fructose recently sat down with Fumi Nakamura to discuss life and art as she wrapped things up on her upcoming solo show opening this Saturday at Thinkspace in Culver City, CA. Fumi’s 1st feature on the site from last year garnered her the #5 spot on Hi-Fructose’s most read posts of 2011.
Very few artists work with colored pencils, can you talk about why you have made this choice and how it effects your process? Out of all the other mediums I chose colored pencil because it fits perfectly in my right hand. Though, I am not great at holding them and literally destroy my hand from using them. But mainly, I can control colors better and am able to work into details easily. I also finding paintings to be stressful. I am too impatient to wait and too OCD to make a mess in my studio.
Yosuke Ueno was born in 1977 in Japan, but might as well be from another planet. Bizarre, surreal and thought provoking, Ueno has been building upon his visual vocabulary since early childhood, having held his first solo show in Yamaguchi when he was only sixteen. Self taught and always moving forward, the main themes in Yosuke’s art will always be love, space and positive energy. His work is very cosmic in nature and features a great amount of recurring symbolism. The colors red, green, yellow and blue appear often in his work. These colors represent the four bases of DNA: adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine (A, T, G and C) – molecular elements that all animate beings share. Yosuke paints these colors and A, T, G and C with a simple universal message that all animate beings should have equal worth.
An interview with Yosuke Ueno
Can you share a lil’ bit about your new body of work for ‘The Specific Illusion‘?
Before 311, the Tōhoku earthquake, I rarely expressed my anger at my pieces. The reason is that I had placed my art theme on the positive side of life. But in some pieces for this show, I painted my rage against the perfidious attitudes that the Japanese government and electric power companies have taken towards Japanese people.
Your show will open just a little over 1 year after the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami of March 11th that has forever changed life in Japan. Is this bittersweet or do you find it liberating in a way?
The Great Earthquake and Tsunami that attacked eastern Japan on March 11th, 2011 and the resulting accident at the nuclear reactor in Fukushima are forever etched in our memories. 3/11 is an unforgettable day for all the people that live in Japan and Japan has suffered a great trauma. In fact, I have created many works that derive from these events. Our daily life has had to totally change since that day. I almost couldn’t believe that I am living the same world where we had lived before 3/11. Everyone in Japan now distinguish their lives as before 3/11 and after 3/11. I remember well staring at blank canvases, trembling with great fear remembering those days. The quake has brought a specific shape to my art that have had some obscure illusions. In other words, ‘The Specific Illusion’ is a special exhibit where I express my experiences “after 3/11” from various aspects of my life.
What fuels you to keep creating?
Anger is my energy to create. There is no end to feel outrage in this world. I always face vacant canvases with furious outbursts; but finally sometimes my pieces have positive aspects such as joy and love, contrary to anger or fury that provoke me these days. I don’t know what kind of chemical reaction is at work between my anger and my work. I just move my mind and hands as I feel. And at the same time, I hope my pieces still hold some of my positive vibes in them. That is, in my thoughts I look at my artwork not only as “work” but also as a “device” that provide energies to the audiences. I prefer positive to negative ones, in terms of giving my audience such an experience, even if the energy that inspires me to work is my anger at our current situation on this planet we call home.
Please describe your dream project if time and money were not issues.
I always do what I want, I mean, when creating my artworks. But there are some projects in my mind for the future. The major one is to design apparels. And another big dream of mine is producing a hotel, one day I would like to design all the interiors and exteriors of a large hotel. I sometimes imagine the hotel, excited to think about it!!!
Favorite item in your studio?
Some sweets and sparkling water. They always cheer me up when I feel tired ☺.
Is there anything in particular that you’d like to discuss or bring up here?
I would like to ask you, the reader, if you have you ever considered the energy sources that you are using in your daily life? Japanese people had no idea about the energy used for our daily life and we all had seemingly chosen nuclear energy without truly recognizing what we were using for our energy source. That is a result of being unconcerned and too busy in our daily lives. But nuclear plants have a great risk. Once an accident happens at a nuclear plant, that influence holds on for a long time, changing things forever in that area. In the US, a nuclear meltdown occurred in Three Mile Island in 1979. After that accident, there has not been any other nuclear power plants built in the US for 34 years now. But I’ve heard news that the US government has permitted a new nuclear power plant recently. I think now is the time to be concerned about our energy sources once again. So I would like to ask you, have you ever thought about what kind of energies you are using? Where the electric energy you are using at this moment to read this blog on the Internet comes from?
Any shows coming up after your exhibit with us here at Thinkspace you would like to mention?
I’m going to take part in shows at Tokyo, Rome, Berlin, and Hong Kong later this year. Every show makes me excited to create, and I hope to continue to do more and more shows all around the world.
Come on out this Saturday, March 31st from 5-8PM for your chance to meet Yosuke & check out his new body of work.
Fumi Nakamura was born in December 1984 in a small town called Shimizu outside of Shizuoka, Japan. Fumi grew up surrounded by beautiful mountains and the ocean and this environment has had a lasting effect on her work. She moved to the United States just before her 12th birthday with her mother and brother. Fumi spent her middle school to college years in beautiful Northern California where she graduated from San Jose State University with a BFA Pictorial Arts degree in the fall of 2007.
Fumi currently lives in the New York City area where she works as a freelance illustrator and designer. Her work has shown the world over as well as taking part in the prestigious Semi-Permanent design event in Australia (2005).
An interview with Fumi Nakamura
● Can you share a lil’ bit about your new body of work for ‘Our Hands Will Eventually Destroy Everything Beautiful’?
“Our Hands Will Eventually Destroy Everything Beautiful” is an original developed series based on my past two series “Himitsu” and “Shapeshifter.” To put those two series in short, Himitsu means “secret” in Japanese, where I wanted to portray hiding my emotions away and getting rid of promises and detaching myself from others. “Shapeshifter” is a series on transformation – where I was experiencing some changes in my life (I graduated from college around that time and was “trying” to become more adult. The so called early 20’s crisis). While those two series were being worked on, I had a mental break down. I couldn’t draw anything for half a year. I was chasing after unrealistic thoughts and hopes during that year (that was miserable). Then one day, something inside of me snapped and I came to the realization that I need to move on and get rid of my “problems” – beautiful memories with someone I loved, childhood trauma, pains of growing up and literally everything since they were the core source of my regrets and grudges. It was weighing me down so much and I felt like I was suffocating. I had (and still do have) a problem with holding onto the past heavily to the point where it was making me so miserable. I wanted to change and stop running away from reality – in order to do that, I decided to “destroy.” So I can maintain pieces of life together, survive in a place called “life.” I became honest, out-spoken and decided to cut all the things out that are affecting me and my life negatively. People may think I am harsh, mean, insensitive and an intense person, but I want to survive and do something I want to do (and I sure do have lots to do!). And really, who really cares about what others think of you, we don’t really have time to be worried about that. Others are others. You are you. I am me! Just be nice to the people you care for and care about you. Only give enough that you can pass by. Either way, for me or to others, to maintain happiness and / or have a well balanced life, we all have to make some sort of a choice. Every choice contains some sort of consequences and we will hurt / be unfair to one another. Relationships and friendships are full of that. They can be beautiful and great, but it’s complicated because human beings perplex situations with emotions and thoughts. In the end, we are doing things for our own sake. We are selfish and greedy, and we can’t deny that. I want to create a series of images that capture every little moment, emotion and thought in life. I like to create a “collage” like image – pack them so tightly together to the point when you get close to the drawings and things will “fall apart”. I want to create something intense and fragile, just like how delicate yet complicated human beings are. Eventually we will destroy something beautiful and precious for something greater.
● What fuels you to keep creating?
The idea of possibilities.
● Please describe your dream project if time and money were not issues.
Publication project – I’ve been planning to start a publishing business for past 3 years. I am very interested in creating unique limited edition books and collaborating with other creatives. I have been talking and working closely with a printshop named “Marginal Editions” for the past few months, and we are discussing making some limited edition prints and they will also help me print. I want to collaborate with people who are talented and inspire me. If money isn’t an issue, I want to make many books, have a small store / printshop / cafe with my life partner.
● Is there anyone in particular, artist or otherwise, that you’d like to give a shout out to here?
I haven’t been following art in general, but I have been listening to the new LP by the Norwegian band Alog.
● Any shows or special projects coming up after your exhibit with us here at Thinkspace you would like to mention?
Planning to work on a new series and concentrate on my publishing business (I hope).
Fumi Nakamura ‘Tomorrow Is Our Permanent Address’ – graphite and color pencil – 16×20 inches (2012)
Emma Tooth is among the most exciting fine art portrait painters in England today. Born in Cambridge, now based in rural Derbyshire, she exhibits her breathtaking oil paintings all over the UK and abroad. “It is the creation of likeness which fascinates me; a glint of gold in the shadows, the flicker of an eyelid, the shimmering pulsation of nerves under skin. Likeness is always at the centre of my work; the almost mathematical relationships of feature to feature are just the beginning, but accuracy is essential. Alongside my painting I also make the historically-influenced costumes which appear in some of my paintings. This is a response, I suppose, to my restless discomfort with a soulless, mundane 21st century devoid of decoration or beauty or the magical promises made by a century of fantastical predictions. I look back to the costume and manner of the 1880s, to Symbolist and Pre-Raphaelite art, to Art Nouveau and Japanese imagery. Costume, masquerade and artifice are essential elements of my work, continuing my long-time explorations of self-image and self-presentation. There is a sense of escapism; most of my paintings are of a single figure, of a solitary moment, withdrawn from the rest of the world. I relish the glowing transparency and texture of oil paint and more and more I seek to create, as well as the overall image, a kind of macro-feast of surface texture which can only really be appreciated close up”.
Humans relate to images of of other humans, particularly faces, on a visceral, subconscious level; this is why portraiture is especially powerful and relevant. After layers of meaning and concept are stripped away, that relationship remains. Emmaʼs images can be very intimate and very personal, drawing on her own lived experiences of love, sadness and joy.
An interview with Emma Tooth
Can you share a little bit about your ‘Concilium Plebis’ series which we’re showing in Picks of the Harvest 2012?
Concilium Plebis is Latin for A Council Of The Ordinary People and it is an ongoing project I have been working on on-and-off since 2007. I found many of the models by just approaching strangers on British streets. The original idea was to take UK street-style – something often thought of as ugly, lowbrow or even frightening and find beauty in it, to encourage people to see art and nobility in unexpected places.
What fuels you to keep creating?
I want to make the world a little more beautiful.
Please describe your dream project if time and money were not issues.
I would like to take my work off the canvas a bit and perform actually! Maybe train to be a ballerina or a gymnast or something! I haven’t done ballet since I was a child and I’m still very flexible…
Favorite item in your studio?
My hens! And the beautiful easel my father made for me when I was a teenager.
Is there anyone in particular, artist or otherwise, that you’d like to give a shout out to here?
Yes, my husband Owen Tooth. He makes amazing films and he’s currently working on his biggest one yet – a film so scary I’m not even allowed to read the script!
Any shows or special projects coming up after your exhibit with us here at Thinkspace you would like to mention?
The Derby Museum and Art Gallery recently commissioned a new painting from me for their collection which is about to be unveiled, called The Captive. It is inspired by a painting in the Museum’s collection of the same title by 18th century master, Wright of Derby who I exhibited with in 2010.
Wright’s ‘Captive’, painted around 1775, shows a scene from Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey: a bearded man in the pose of Michaelangelo’s Adam, languishes in a prison cell having lost his passport. My new painting shows a young, tattooed man – a breakdancer actually – in the same pose, going to waste in front of his TV, held captive and lit by the utter banality projected from it into his room. The tattoo on his chest reads, “don’t count the days, make the days count”; the model really has that tattoo and I thought it sums up the sentiment of the picture perfectly. It’s something I feel really strongly about – it’s poison – just think what people, what humanity could achieve if they weren’t wasting their lives in front of the TV.
Look for three works from Emma’s ‘Concilium Plebis‘ series to be featured in our upcoming ‘Picks of the Harvest 2012′group show opening on Saturday, March 3rd.