• Preview of Arts Center at Duck Creek show

    In Art, Artist, Exhibition, Installation, Painting on

    My show at Arts Center at Duck Creek opens tomorrow. I’m truly mesmerized by the warm, rustic aura of the space. The raw dynamics of wooden structural members holding each other to become a monumental shelter conveys a timeless notion of a gathering place for the people. It is a perfect place for my paintings to tell their stories of being human and what it is to live. I’m truly grateful for the wisdom of the community members to transform the space for arts, community dialogues, music and much more.

    We will have an extended opening 5 to 8 tomorrow, June 1st. The Arts Center will have some food, I will make some sushi roles, and my wife is going to bake cookies.

    The show will be open Thursday to Monday 11-6pm and by appointment through June 23rd.

    As I said I will be at the Arts Center most of the time. Looking forward see some of you there!

  • Exploring A ‘Visual Language’, Interview by Nicole Teitler

    In News on

    Original post at The Independent

    What influenced you to be in the creative world?

    I didn’t grow up around artists at all. In fact, I wasn’t really conscious about what art could do till I went to college and learned about art. It was odd but while I loved making things and drawing as a child, it really didn’t occur to me what it is to make something.

    By making something, I mean putting things together to create a wholeness with momentum to move us. It’s about ways to transform the sum of each element into more than the simple equation, to activate the elements with an unknown something to reveal how things really are. I believe dealing with art is one way to be human, with its human deficiency as well as the unknown potential of what we are made of.

    How does your creative process differ from sculpture to painting?

    The process of painting is one of the most fascinating things for me. It’s a struggle to open myself, observe, and free elements as a cohesive dynamic or narrative emerging before me. I accept, affirm, and become one with the momentum to explore the process. It’s a way to surrender to the material reality while firmly grounding myself in the essence of my being. It’s highly pragmatic, yet, it is also open to the mysterious potential of our fundamental nature. If it sounds strange, well, yes, it is, and the end result can be also very strange but somehow it resonates with my heart.

    Sculpture making shares the same aspect of working with the unknown, especially at the beginning of the process, when I come up with the core idea. But the process then becomes more methodical as it involves assembly of materials. It’s like growing a seed slowly with caring hands and heart. Both ways are valid and effective for me.

    What are your pieces about? Do you focus on a particular motif?

    When I started making art a few decades ago, I was very strict and conscious about not relying on recognizable symbols, images, or narratives. I was aiming to speak a “visual language” based on our perceptions of form elements such as shapes, lines, tones, colors, contrasts, and so on. I thought that was the way to transcend our differences as people and speak some sort of a common language.

    I see that even what we regard as ideal principles — “freedom,” “democracy,” “justice,” “humanity,” and so on — are rather artificial within the narratives we are forced to consume in the authoritarian hierarchy of money and violence. I see that our perceptions, for example, are largely based on values, beliefs, and norms cultivated through the pragmatic necessity of surviving within the capitalist hierarchy.

    What are your pieces about? Do you focus on a particular motif?

    When I started making art a few decades ago, I was very strict and conscious about not relying on recognizable symbols, images, or narratives. I was aiming to speak a “visual language” based on our perceptions of form elements such as shapes, lines, tones, colors, contrasts, and so on. I thought that was the way to transcend our differences as people and speak some sort of a common language.

    I still subscribe to the basic idea, but as I get older and see how our world operates, I see that our nature as humans and our relationship to our material reality aren’t that simple. I mean, it is a challenge to express what it is to be human, when our perceptions are so systemically and structurally skewed by the framework of our time.

    I see that even what we regard as ideal principles — “freedom,” “democracy,” “justice,” “humanity,” and so on — are rather artificial within the narratives we are forced to consume in the authoritarian hierarchy of money and violence. I see that our perceptions, for example, are largely based on values, beliefs, and norms cultivated through the pragmatic necessity of surviving within the capitalist hierarchy.

    How did you get involved with Duck Creek?

    I have worked with the director Jess Frost in the past, and she encouraged me to submit an exhibition proposal. I live close to Duck Creek and I have been familiar with the beautiful space so I am very much grateful for the team at Duck Creek for allowing me to show my work there. It is important that the town is supportive of the arts, and it is great that the community-based efforts have been made to offer a venue for art, performance, and music in the area.

    Do you have a favorite work you’ve done, thus far?

    I always try to pursue new possibilities. So naturally, I think I’ve been always interested in the work I am doing at the moment. But it’s also nice to see old works and find some parts refreshing, intriguing, or even surprising. The thing about art is that the crucial part is always the part that mystifies and triggers a sense of awe. It allows us to be a part of a larger reality, even though we don’t really understand it. That way, it allows us to be humans with dignity somehow.

    What’s ahead for you?

    I feel that I have so much to do in so many directions. Life is just too short.

    The Arts Center at Duck Creek is located at 127 Squaw Road, Springs, East Hampton. Learn more at the website http://www.duckcreekarts.org.

    nicole@indyeastend.com

  • Painting Show at Arts Center at Duck Creek

    In Art, Artist, Exhibition, News, Painting on

    Friends,
    I’m very excited and happy to announce that my paintings will be at one of the most beautiful art venues in the region, Arts Center at Duck Creek (127 Squaw Road, East Hampton), from June 1st through June 23rd.The opening reception is June 1 from 5-7.

    The work shown will be selected paintings from 2013 to 2018. 5 years worth of struggle, surprise, revelation, joy, heartbreak and achievement will be on view at the splendid 19th century barn.

    I have lived in the area for over 20 years. Unfortunately, I often realize that I barely know many people who are supportive of arts in my own community. I will be gallery-sitting through most of the duration of the show, Thursday to Monday, 11 to 6. Please come say hi. Please spread the words, invite your friends and family members to see the show. I ‘ll be very happy to meet you and chat.

     

  • A New Piece, #86

    In News on

    This one grew at the edge of my mind for a few years. I worked on it on and off, and at some point, it really started to show something remarkable. It’s always exciting to see ideas merge to consist of a wholeness with a life of its own.

    #86, 26″ x 25″ x 5 1/4″, painted resin, 2016-19

  • A New Piece #85

    In News on

    Here is a new piece. I don’t quite know if it’s a sculpted painting or a painted sculpture. I started it as a painting—it does have layers of paint underneath, but I ended up finishing it with resin, which I used to cover a previous piece, #82. You don’t see much paint on it, but I certainly treated the surface as if it were a painted surface.

    #85, 48″ x 60″ x 1.75″, canvas, resin and acrylic, 2019

     

  • Freud Monk Gallery Interview

    by Adam Reid Fox

    March 18, 2019

    To begin, could you tell me a little about yourself and your background?

    I grew up in Japan till I was 18. My family came to the States in the late 80s because of my father’s job. So I’ve been exposed to different sets of values, beliefs and norms from two different countries. This has been very helpful in constructing my world view from my own perspective as well as steering my path into my studio practice in art.

    Describe your journey to becoming, (or identifying as) an artist. Has it been easy? Natural? What has been difficult?

    When I went to college my initial interest was in psychology. I think I wanted to find out who we are as a species after learning that prevalent angles in one culture are not necessarily valid in others. Then I took some elective courses in art and one of the art teachers, Karl Jacobson, showed me how visual language can let us speak to each other despite our cultural boundaries. This really shocked me and moved me. It was profound and surprising. I eventually changed my major and started to spend all my time in making art. Looking back it was perhaps natural in a way since as a child I was always making things and drawing. But I really didn’t grow up with art and becoming an artist was not something I would do. I think being displaced and being forced to reexamine my identity somehow freed me in that regard.

    How would you describe your work to someone?

    I describe materials, physical attributes and so on a little, and I usually end up saying that you have to see it. I like an element of the unknown to play a good part in the work so it is difficult to verbalize it.

    What is important for viewers to note when viewing your work?

    I would like them to know that all viewers are invited to appreciate my work. I understand that we don’t share the same background and we have different ways of perceiving things. And I would like to know what they think of them and how they feel about them.

    What is your process like? How important is process in understanding your work?

    The core process seems to be brainstorming through drawing. Basic ideas emerge from it. Some of them become sculptures and others become prints. Paintings follow a different process. I usually go right in without preconceived ideas. I rely on visual elements appearing on the surface to guide the overall dynamics. It can be a very thrilling process with surprises and dramas, and it can also be very meditative and liberating. And all my work, including sculptures and prints, involve this process of examining dynamics within the work—I want all elements to play necessary rolls to compose the profound wholeness.

    I like hearing about artists’ process, but other than that, I don’t know if knowing the process would facilitate the understanding… Also, the process is hardly formulated…it’s very bumpy and often tortuously long and frustrating. But sometimes it goes very smooth. Come to think of it, there might be some keys in understanding the particular work in its particular process…

    But basically making process to me is about observing and letting the elements speak as they form relationships among themselves. So any preconceived formula, rule and so on can be very much hazardous, as much as instructive, as they can get in the way of new discoveries.

    I’m interested to know how you arrived at your choice of process, materials, and ‘style?’ How did this develop?

    Those things are developed by the path of my studio practice. One thing leads to another, I digest the process, and it gives birth to more paths and options, and after awhile I have ended up with a trajectory with certain materials, process and “style”. It all happens in an intermingling dynamic of various elements though. It’s hard to pin point a cause and the effect when I’m in the middle of processing multiple phenomenons on multiple dimensions. A lot of things happen intuitively. I do stop and contemplate here and there, but after all it seems that those things are determined by the works themselves.

    What does your work aim to say?

    Each piece is different so I can’t generalize too much, but I’m very much fascinated by the mode of communication through arts. I think a successful art work allows us to convey a genuine experience without truncating details when it takes us over and flourishes in our hearts. You can live a moment with its infinite connection to ourselves and our environment. And sometimes you can share the experience with others too. I think this is particularly meaningful in a highly authoritarian society, like ours, that systematically and structurally truncates our connections to self, others, matters and environment by limiting them to quantifiable commodities. It is extraordinary that such a trajectory has deprived us of our ability to sense the risks of environmental destruction, nuclear threat and so on. But art can somehow give us a common ground to stand on. I don’t claim this to solve anything, give us a revelation of our time or anything like that, but it is still a profound fact that we have this gift of our life that defies certain obstacles among us for a moment.

    Can you highlight some of your influences and discuss how they have impacted your work?

    I’m sure I get influenced by other artists’ paths here and there, but overwhelmingly, it is my own path in my studio that affects the work the most. I usually have a few pieces in progress so they sort of feed each other in terms of directions, methods and so on. Also, making prints might do something to sculpture making, while sculptures might affect the paintings and so on. It’s all fluid, organic and dialectic.

    Where do you find inspiration?

    Again, things that happen in my studio get me going. It’s exciting to see mere shapes, lines, tones and so on suddenly find their voices and start making dynamics, flows, visual narratives and presences. When I get stuck I listen to music. I also have an electric guitar for releasing some tension and having fun. I also read and write. Actually, making art can be pretty tough, I get stuck quite often.

    In your experience, what is the best thing about being an artist? What is the hardest thing about being an artist?

    There are moments when you forget about everything and you just appreciate the time you spend making the work. And there are even more special moments when you literally melt with the experience of having your work culminate into a finished work. You lose sense of time and space and be one with the experience. Such times are so special that I feel just happy doing what I do in my studio.

    The tough part is that I am aware of what art can be and I struggle with what I can do with art as I look at things outside of my studio with my artist’s eyes. I connect dots and I try to make sense out of events, facts and contexts just as I do in my studio with visual elements. I see that our era is not a time of “democracy”, “freedom”, “humanity” and so on. Awful things are done in the name of those things.

    If you were not an artist, what would you be?

    I really can’t imagine…

    What piece of advice would you give to a young artist?

    The World is huge. Much bigger than the tiny cage old people call “country”, “society”, “culture” and so on. We the artists know the infinite universe of true liberation. Tell people stories about freedom, what it is to be humans, try not to build cages for the people.

    Interview at Freud Monk Gallery

    Wall Sculptures at Freud Monk Gallery

  • Wall Sculptures at Freud Monk Gallery

    In Art, Artist, Exhibition, News, Sculpture on

    Freud Monk Gallery is having an online exhibition of wall sculptures which opens on March 1st.  They are showing some of my pieces.

    I’ve been enjoying their Instagram posts and the site has intriguing interviews by the artists in the current show.  Sign up for email notification at their site.  Their page has a link:  @freudmonkgallery

  • #1 and #2 added to the site

    In Art, Artist, creative process, Sculpture on

    Two of my oldest pieces #1 and #2 have been added to my site. I remember starting to work on #2 while I was in the graduate program at University of Maryland in 1995. I remember continuing to work on it at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Although the pieces were added to the sculpture section at the site, when I started to work on them I had no ambition of embarking on making “sculptures”. I was merely moved by phenomenon after phenomenon appearing and disappearing on the work surfaces. I was interested in an object-like quality—as opposed to a window to look into an illusionistic-paint scape. I was taken by texture, scratch marks, peeled paint and chunky paint blobs. Instead of working on canvas, I started to work on wood panels (hollow core doors were cut into appropriate sizes with the ends refinished) so that I could dig into them, staple them, bore holes and bang on them. I also built the surface with burlap and plaster for more texture. The layers and my improvisation on them revealed many intriguing visual narratives. It completely captivated me that I could speak with my work. #1 was documented with slide film so it has the soft, grainy look. Remember shooting slides, making dupes and sending them out? All the rejection letters? Lol.

     

    #1, plaster, tar and wood, 24″ x 19″, 1995

    #1 detail view

    #2, acrylic, burlap, enamel, plaster, tar and staple, 36″ x 36″, 1995

    #2 detail view

    #1 detail view

  • #32 added to the site

    In Art, Artist, News, Sculpture on

    A piece from 1998-2001 has been added to the sculpture section of my site. I’ve been conscious of the fact that many people who look at my work do so through the Internet. I’ve learned how to document the work and I believe I’ve done a decent job. But obviously, looking at the work through screens with their limitations curtails the appreciation. Certain pieces will appear better than others as some aspects are easier to perceive than others on screen. It is completely impossible to convey the significance of certain others. But having said that, it is absolutely mind-blowing that we do more or less recognize visual languages across the globe while many of us don’t even speak the same language. Our governments might even consider your governments “enemies”, building nuclear weapons, badmouthing peoples based on their nationalities and so on. But we have the same language to build our friendship.

    #32, enamel, oil, plaster, tar and wax, 38″ x 36″ x 1.75″, 1998-2001

  • A drawing for a new piece

    I’ve started making a new large sculpture a few months ago. It’s still at a planing stage but I am quite excited about the it. Making #82 taught me a lot in terms of the material and how to express two dimensional drawing as a three dimensional object. Right now, I’m still struggling with a model. Here is a drawing of it.