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Yumiko’s ready to “Rock”

Yumiko Kayukawa in her studio

Yumiko Kayukawa in her studio

Install week is here yet again, and we’re preparing to hang some brand-new work by Portland-based artist Yumiko Kayukawa in Shooting Gallery. The show will be Yumiko’s 7th exhibition at Shooting Gallery, and according to bossman Justin Giarla: It’s some of her best work yet. We decided to have a little chat with her, prior to the opening, to see what she’s been up to.

Full interview after the jump!

So can you tell us about a few of the ideas you had when planning the work for your upcoming show, Rock You in a Tatami Room?

The idea of “Rock you in a Tatami room” was always in my mind. It’s been 10 years since I started my career in the US and 6 years since I moved from Japan. ”Rock you in a Tatami Room” is a metaphor for my work and life in the US. I think this identifies my style. When I started to create pieces for this show, it just came up in my mind.

You’ve been living and working in the United States for a decade now, how has the time you’ve spent living here impacted your work? Talk a little bit about the difference between being a Japanese artist, and becoming an Japanese-American artist? Has anything changed at all for you?

Because of my English skill is a little bit better now, I can play with English words more for creating titles and themes. I usually create a title first, then expand it, so it’s pretty important process in my work. I’m a Japanese artist live in America, and I left half of my heart in my home country. I am actually more interest about Japan since I live here, and this creates more details and stories in my paintings. To be an artist in America gives me more life. I have so many opportunities since I started here, and I can’t compare it with the scene in Japan. Art is needed in life here. It’s just like magic to see young and old people who don’t hesitate to buy art. I can feel “art passion” from people and it gives me happiness.

How have you progressed or changed your work since your very first show at Shooting Gallery seven years ago? Out of all the shows you’ve had here, which one was your favorite?

Wow, how can I say, but I can tell they are more details and stories in my work now. I didn’t try, but It happened naturally. My favorite show from the past is “World wide enemy”.

Is there anything new you’ve been incorporating into the pieces that will be up for this next show?

I created a piece with two men. It’s  ”Men’s bath, woman’s bath”. They looks like they are a man and a woman, but they are Kabuki stars, so both of them are man.  It’s my first time to paint a man looks like a woman. And it was fun.

Do you use some sort of reference or collection of inspirations when developing the color palette for your work? Where does it come from?

I like color, so I love colorful things. Glam rock star’s photo, candy, fashion magazines, but especially the color from Kimono. I love the color combinations of patterns and it’s an inspiration. Also colors from nature influence my palette too.

Are the scenes depicted in this work based on a personal narrative, some sort of existing storyline, or is it invented on a piece-by-piece basis?

It depends on a paintings, but yes, some of them have existing story lines from my experience. For example, a piece from the show “New world”, is the theme of our current economy shock, incorporated with the history of Japan after WW2. Also “Have you ever been a foreigner”, is an image of my feelings of living in America.

At the time that I painted “The last 34″,about the Amour leopard, they were only 34 left in wild. So any thing interesting to me can be the the subject of a painting.

How do you decide what kind of environments to place your figures in? What comes first, the environment or the figure?

Actually title comes first, mostly. Then start to connect the figure to the name, and the last is environment.

Are there any parts of the compositions that hold personal significance to you? (I’m thinking of some of the repeated elements, like the animals and cherry blossoms, are they just a visual device, or are they a visual manifestation of something important to you?)

Animals or creatures are a must in my work. Obviously I love animals, and it’s a joy to show them with my “modern girls”. It’s the symbol of my work, that anywhere you live, people and nature effect each other.  This is my way to share my love to animals. Cherry blossoms and flowers are inspired from classic Kimono patterns. I don’t have much of a chance to wear Kimonos today, but I enjoy to see them and paint these patterns in my work. Flowers like cherry blossoms or chrysanthemum, have special meanings in Japan, and I use them in my paintings for that reason.

What’s on the horizon for you, any ideas for what’s happening next?

I still discover new creations in my mind everyday. So I’m still in this “art quest”.  Maybe I have too much motivation. It’s hard not to. So I’m still wonder what’s gonna be next for me. I hope I can keep bring some surprises to the world :)

Join us this Saturday, March 12 from 7-11 pm for the joint opening reception of “Rock You in a Tatami Room,” at Shooting Gallery, and EINE’s “Greatest” exhibition at White Walls.

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