An interview with Yosuke Ueno

Yosuke Ueno at work on 'Visionary' inside his studio in Japan

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.

Yosuke Ueno 'DODO-UN' - acrylic on canvas (2012)

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.

Yosuke Ueno 'Melty Babel' - acrylic on canvas (2012)

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.

Drawing for 'Positive-E no.6' in progress inside Ueno's studio in Japan

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.

Yosuke Ueno "I Become Forest" - acrylic on canvas (2012)

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 ☺.

Yosuke Ueno 'I Am Forest' - acrylic on canvas (2012)

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?

'Beginning The Forest' just completed inside Ueno's studio in Japan

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.

Yosuke Ueno 'Praying Fish' - acrylic on canvas (2012)

Come on out this Saturday, March 31st from 5-8PM for your chance to meet Yosuke & check out his new body of work.

Thinkspace / 6009 Washington Blvd. in Culver City, CA / www.thinkspacegallery.com

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