Formal issues of color fascinate me. However, color also addresses aspects of art that go beyond the formal. I approach color in a way that involves an interdisciplinary collaboration with politics and history. For me, color is about language and experience, and all color is a collection of memories, which may be vividly representational, abstract, or conceptual.
Although modern art criticism has consistently emphasized the autonomy of color-field painting, it is worth mentioning that in reality, the viewer always experiences a painting in the context of its surrounding environment. In other words, it is impossible to separate any painting from its political landscape and from conversations around the painting. During the European Renaissance, painting was very much a component of architecture and combined with sculptural elements to generate spiritual exchanges within the Church. One can see the Sistine Chapel as a site-specific installation, both in time and location. A dialogue with painting’s interdisciplinary and collaborative tradition is essential to engaging its mystery.
My interests in art tend toward an interest in the enigmatic relationship between colors and their names as they appear in commercial paint charts. They are found objects or artifacts from my past, elements assimilated when I was looking at many color charts while creating artist’s books in Japan. One may use terminologies of Ferdinand de Saussure, a father of structural linguistics, on the semiological relationship between the signifier and the signified as a guide to understand my direction. A particular case that drew my attention is the existence of extremely numerous color products and color names in the current merchandising for house paints. This seems a compelling example of the so-called floating signifiers, names may have lost a typical connection with its referent that Saussure had in mind. My practice has been informed by such artists as Howard Hodgkin, James Hyde, Heimo Zobernig, and Agnes Martin.
I am currently working on a project that embodies my personal associations with colors and offers alternative readings of events in my life. Last year was blue for me and this year became orange. I was rather melancholy last year, especially in the winter. The change occurred when I went to see the sunrise on January 1st. It is the Japanese tradition to go to watch the first sunrise of the year on New Year’s day. One time in the past, I saw blue and orange merging together above the horizon, between the sky and the Lake Michigan. It was a transition from one stage to another.
Throughout my life, I have always been surrounded by the death, fatal situations. First, I was in the Kobe Earthquake, and then, I missed the Sarin gas attack on Tokyo Subway system for a few minutes. By the time I survived and witnessed 9/11 and the Japan Tsunami Earthquake Disaster, I finally came to realize that this is my every day. Now that I find myself in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, I have become a witness for the worst outbreak of this deadly disease. I keep finding myself as a witness for historically and socially charged events. There seems to be no escape from a string of disasters in my life, so over time, I learned how to cope with my own environments and how to tell my side of the stories, through visual arts. I exercise my artistic voice in response to my unique personal history. When I pour my paint, I am giving up some part of painting and my life at the same time. This ambiguity helped me follow the flow of life and guided me through the world. My work now shows my excitement, hope, and joy to live. Only through art am I able to examine my feelings, perceptions, and my relationship to nature and the world. I believe that this is the only way I share my real life with others.