“I’m not lying about what I’m doing.” Yuta okuda says. He is a painter who uses fine paintings and ink. This time, we interviewed him about his work as well as his production style that values sincerity above all else.
The style of your painting seems to be created based on the technique of miniature painting, can you explain the work first?
-All of my work is based on unconscious self-projection and self-interpretation. At the unconscious level, I imagine a single object, and at the conscious level, I work on concept work, such as Hannya (a mask of a female demon), Marilyn, and Komainu (shrine guardian dog statues). The subject I want to draw unconsciously is always flowers and living beings, and from there I express two different themes such as beauty and ugliness, love and jealousy, life and death, in one screen. The motif is always living beings, representing the beauty of natural providence in the concept of “beautiful foodchain”.
The expression method of the work has been changing over the last few years, from a fine-grained drawing using lines to a work that makes use of black ink spreading randomly. I think changes in the environment and the mind have a major effect on my work but at the same time, drawing fine line art is my temperament.
You used to be a designer, why did you become an artist?
-There are many reasons for this, but I think it was because I just wanted to become an artist. Designers and artists have completely different characteristics.
As a designer, I was a creative type who liked to focus on patterns. But individuality/personality is not required for commercial designers. The commercial designer is required to create a fixed design on a fixed schedule and it was more stressful than I thought. So I think my feeling towards an artist started from there and I just want to create something that I love and enjoy to do.
So did you immediately start working as an artist?
-No, at first I was just painting at home, I guess ‘stress relief’ was the right word at that time. Looking back now, the painting that I created at that time looks very dense. It even gives a savage impression when looking at them closer as well. It was stressed relief, and I was getting my negative emotions out. I never thought about showing my work to people as I consider them as my toxins.
But still, you decided to present your work to the world and start your career as an artist.
-There were people who accepted my paintings. Some people liked my work where my negative emotion was exposed. I was surprised but felt comfortable at the same time. This is something that I’ve never felt in my life when I was working as a designer. Fashion is rather more ‘patching’ where paintings are ‘naked’, it’s like showing the inner core of myself. I was glad to show my ‘inner core’ and to be evaluated by others. At that time, I saw a friend who works as an artist and was jealous of what he has achieved, and I wanted to be one as well. So maybe that was the actual reason why I wanted to become an artist, the feeling of jealousy. I wanted to abandon my feelings and work on art as a professional, not for hobbies. I wanted to focus on it thoroughly.
You said your work was self-projecting. Was the production process defined as “unconscious → conscious” from the beginning?
-In the beginning, I was constantly painting, about 15 hours a day. I continued to paint for three days and slept for half a day. I was focusing on outputting all of my emotions out. After putting everything out, that was the time when my concept was finally visible, which was “self-projection”.
It’s totally the opposite of fashion. There was a concept first in fashion and I was assembling it from there, but what I do in art is to discover myself, and put out my most honest self out on the screen. It is important how much I can show my inner core of myself and how to pull each part out. I want to see how my experience will be outputted.
Isn’t it difficult to input based on your own experience?
-Yes, it was difficult and I run out in the first three years. Thirty years of life were outputted in three years. But I think I can still dig deeper. In these 3 years, I was able to look back on my 30 years like what was my essence, and what my base was. I feel like I’ve finally understood myself in these 3 years. Therefore, I will incorporate various things and make new things. I feel like I’m on the second start of my life now.
In addition to the earlier miniature paintings, it seems like works using ink have increased. Is this change intentional?
-It’s changing because my work is linked to myself. It is very difficult to create work exactly the same as before, both physically and mentally. It is changing but at the same time, I’m doing what I feel satisfied and confident without any doubts. As I mentioned earlier, it’s important how my works can be ‘naked’ and how I can be honest with myself and I can be absolutely certain with what I’m doing it right now.
When it comes to creation and techniques, my concerns are creating a masterpiece as well as the number of works that I can create. In the past, I was happy just to earn money by painting but now I am aiming for higher goals, so I want to pay attention to the number of the works that I can create as well. On the other hand, I always tried to use other materials as well. I tried watercolor, copperplate, oil painting, Japanese painting, and clay. As a result, ink suits my style of work.
You’ve organized yourself through art, came up with new goals, and aiming for the next step. Is your next goal already clear?
-Since my work is self-projecting, not all of my future visions are clear. All I can say is that I don’t lie to myself or others. I want to be ‘naked’ and honest when creating my work. That’s why I want to make use of my own, natural experience.
As I mentioned earlier, my paintings always refer to the beauty and ugliness, life and death of flowers and living beings on an unconscious level. The things that I want to see and paint are gradually becoming clearer. I’m finally used to the emptiness, so I’m looking forward to the work of incorporating various experiences and making them into paintings. My style of work may change. I am different from when I started painting so my work may not be the style as it was before. But I don’t think it’s bad that there are changes. I would like to think about how to create my own paintings while understanding and incorporating the environment and my own changes. No matter how much I change, I will be myself as long as I don’t lie and be honest. For me, painting is to show the most naked and honest parts of myself.