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I want to see the chemical reaction that painting can cause – Interview with Kanae Wu Lin

Since 2011, she has been creating and exhibiting works that focus on the theme of speed in two-dimensional expression, and in 2015, she issued a Futurist-like “Speedism Manifesto,” paying homage to the history of art.


42 x 29.7cm, Giclee printing on paper, edition:50

Click here to see her work

Mr. Hayashi has been working on the theme of speed. Your pursuit of speed in two-dimensional form is reminiscent of Futurism, but at the same time, you seem to be independent of it. Can you start by telling us about the origins of your current works?

Speed is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, but I only became aware of it in relation to Futurism in 2015.

Until then, I had been focusing on the human figure in my compositions, but as I painted more and more compositions with the human figure in the center, I inevitably stopped. A person can be broken down into five parts: face, hands, feet, and torso. It’s simple, but that’s why I felt that there was a limit to my ability to continue with that style.

It was around 2013 that I started to think that I needed to change. I thought I needed to do something more experimental with my work. Then, around 2015, people around me started saying that my work was “futurist-like,” and I was often compared to the Russian avant-garde and other trends in art history.

At the time, I wasn’t really interested in it, and I didn’t know much about it, just that it was something people were saying. I didn’t know much about it. But I gradually grew tired of the situation where I was often told about it, but I didn’t know anything about it. So I decided to do some research. There wasn’t much literature on the subject in Japan, but in the course of my research, I learned that they seemed to be people who were focusing on the theme of speed, and I began to like their worldview.

And that led to the release of “Declaration of Speedism” in 2015. What were your intentions at the time for this action, which can also be seen in “Futurist Manifesto”?

It was more like a manifesto, a way to say, “I’m going to do this kind of movement for a while. It was a manifesto, so like the Futurists, I made the declaration into flyers and distributed them. At the time, the people around me were quite interested in that. They were like, “How are you going to do this?

For me, I was in a fighting mood. I thought, “This is what I’m going to do. At the time, I was drawing pictures all the time, but I was in a state of mind that I didn’t have time to be drawing pictures. I had to do conceptual art straight away. I thought that if I didn’t approach it with space, I wouldn’t be able to win.

He shifted to installations, citing the Futurist trend. You started your career at a relatively early stage, but from the beginning your main focus was painting, right?

I entered university in 2010 and started working gradually the following year, so I was certainly one of the first to start. I won an award at a public exhibition, and that was the start of it.

However, during the time when I was doing installations, I had a great dislike for my own paintings. People around me often told me that they were “cool”, but inside I felt like, “Why are you treating them like illustrations when I put so much thought into them? But I felt like, “Why are you treating it like an illustration when I put so much thought into it? Even if they say it’s cool or something, in the end it’s just being consumed. It was a time when I was thinking that I needed to do art in a more non-consumptive way.

In a sense, spatial art was the antithesis of the evaluation and perception of the world around me, and Futurism was the theoretical support for that approach.

But as time went by, those feelings became less and less. It may have been an innocent thing to do, but I gradually came to want to paint. Or rather, I’ve come to think so. It’s partly because of time. I wanted to think about what I wasn’t doing in painting, and my desire to try painting grew stronger, as it still does today.

Besides, I don’t think I had a sincere attitude toward painting in the first place. The attitude of creating a single work of art on canvas itself was not rooted in my mind. I thought it would be better to relearn the basics, like picking up oil paints and painting something.

When I thought about it, the Futurism trend was almost an afterthought for me, and at the time I had the feeling that this was something that had already been done. I also wondered if there was any future for me if I was the only one talking about speed.

That’s why I went to Italy last April, and that’s where I said goodbye to Futurism. I went to Italy last April to say goodbye to Futurism at the place where they were working. I said, “Thank you for everything. I’m going to do what I want to do from now on.

I came back to painting.

I’m still not sure what I want to do in the realm of painting, but I’ve been thinking about painting and illustration. On the one hand, that’s an obstacle. There’s a kind of disconnect between painting and illustration that will never be bridged. When it was seen as illustration, I felt repulsed and irritated, and when it was called “speedism,” I had the illusion of being integrated into art history and the history of painting. Attempts to integrate painting and illustration have been made throughout art history, but now I feel that even the word “disconnect” is fading. And is that sense really important? I wondered. No, it’s not important. You can do whatever you want to do.

In the first place, the most important thing for me in drawing and painting is the line, which is also the reason why the boundary between illustration and drawing is so blurred. Recently, I’ve been doing some digital drawing, and when I do that, the texture becomes almost irrelevant, which makes the characteristics of line drawing even more clear. In a world where color and layers of paint are not so important, I became more and more obsessed with creating strong forms. Even if you change the way you do things, you still end up with lines, and what you do with those lines. In a way, it’s similar to learning a form.

I’d like to ask you what the act of drawing is to you, and how did you start drawing?

What made you start drawing pictures? It’s quite normal, or rather, it’s a common story that when I drew pictures, people were happy, and I was amused by that. My family was a wine farmer and we lived on the second floor of a wine store, and my parents used to take me to the store. My parents used to take me to the store, and when I drew portraits of the customers, they were happy. That was fun, and I still find it interesting.

Does painting or drawing have a similar meaning to a device for you?

I think so. Rather than just wanting to draw something, I think it’s best if something happens as a result of what I draw. Maybe that’s why I was able to approach it as an installation.

I’d like to expand on your background, but was there a lot of drawing in the culture you were exposed to?

In that respect, I would say manga. Manga is very important, and I think it’s something that is absolutely essential to my life. Cartoons, and also animation. I think it’s important that the lines are moving, though.

Then there’s music…or rather, sound. In my daily life, there is basically sound. It’s not so much the singers that I like, but the songs, the sounds. Sound itself. Music is the fastest medium for me. Music and sound are now “fast things” for me.

Now that you mention speed, speed is also an important element in your work.

There’s a motorcycle race called MotoGP, and the bikes in that race can go very fast. I don’t feel like I’m watching a race anymore. It’s not like watching a race at all, it’s like an object of great speed is passing in front of you, and the only thing you can clearly feel is the sound of the engine. The only thing you can clearly feel is the sound of the engine, and you can understand that this is speed.

I think there is a tendency to pursue the form of speed in my paintings, but on the other hand, there is also the question of “what is speed?

For example, it is said to be the speed of light, but no one has ever seen that speed. We know that speed can get faster or slower, and we feel it every day. But what is speed in the first place? I wonder if anyone is watching the speed. I think it’s very mysterious and dramatic.

The concept of speed can be applied to more than just physics. For example, it is said that time flows differently in urban areas than in other areas. I think the speed of people living in cities is different today than it was 100 years ago, do you ever think about that?

I have a feeling that the more crowded a place is, the faster it goes, and the more crowded it is, the slower it goes. When I first came to Tokyo 10 years ago, it was like a mystery. The speed of Tokyo was incredible. It was like I was in a mythical world of speed, and I was enjoying it. But after ten years, the speed becomes depressing, and I don’t have time to enjoy it anymore. I wonder if I’m simply getting tired of it.

Do you ever think about that? It may be that the hardware of human beings itself has not caught up with the speed. Even when playing games, there is almost no load time now. We can enjoy technology at a very low cost, and many things have been simplified. Whether you are at home or outside, everything is seamless, everywhere. But I think our brains are getting tired of it. But without a certain amount of speed, people would already be frustrated. That’s the interesting part, though.

Whether as a natural phenomenon or as a social or living system, speed is involved in every aspect of our lives.

And we don’t even know it. No one can see it, can they? That’s why I think speed will always remain a mystery to us.

Born in Nagano, Japan, he has been working on the theme of speed in two-dimensional expression since 2011. In 2015, he published the Manifesto of Speedism. Major solo exhibitions include “Big Tree and Giant Woodpecker” (Clear Edition & Gallery/2015) and “God of Speed” (WISH LESS gallery /2019).

Click here to see more editioned works by Kanae Wu Lin

Shinzo Okuoka
Born in 1992 in Tokyo, Japan. After studying Indian philosophy at university, he worked at a publishing company as a deputy editor of an art magazine and a shrine magazine, where he was involved in planning and editing magazines and books. 2019 he joined TRiCERA, a start-up company, where he was in charge of developing Japan's first cross-border e-commerce site specializing in contemporary art, managing artists, and launching the company's own on-demand media. He is also in charge of developing Japan's first cross-border e-commerce site specializing in contemporary art, managing artists, and launching the company's own owned media. He is a fast writer, and when he was working for a magazine, he was able to write 150 pages in a month by himself.

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