Asami Asama tries to understand herself and the world itself through the technique of embroidery. For Asama, who says, “I am like a vessel that stands between my instincts and my work,” embroidery has a ritualistic meaning as she sketches the fundamental sensations she captures, stitches them onto cloth, and repeats the process. In this interview, we talked to him about the background of his work and how he came to his current style.
Asama-san, you have been creating paintings using embroidery. Where did you learn how to embroider?
Actually, I’m completely self-taught. I didn’t learn from anyone, and I don’t follow any professional rules. I’m just trying to find my own way of doing things. I am self-taught, so I have my own rules, but I don’t systematize them as knowledge. That’s why I’m sometimes asked to give workshops, but I can’t teach.
What made you start embroidery ?
Originally, I was an illustrator, but I moved into embroidery because of my child’s illness. I had to take a break to take care of her, but I still wanted to create and express myself. But it was difficult to find the time and space to paint. I wondered if I could somehow create in a way that was more sustainable. That’s how I came up with embroidery. If you only have a needle and thread, you can do it in the kitchen.
33 x 33cm, embroidery, fabric, panel
What is it that keeps you doing embroidery?
I think it’s because it suits my nature the most. Embroidery is exactly the same act of repetition. You repeat the same hand movements. I think this repetition helps me to get away from my ego, and in a way, it’s almost like meditation. Maybe it’s like a ritual. I feel that the act of embroidery brings me closer to the truth.
Does this method of expression also affect the content of your work?
I think so. My work doesn’t have a social or political message. It’s not conceptual… I think. It’s more abstract, like I’m confirming my own existence. It’s a physical sensation that I only feel myself when I’m sewing. But there is no ego there. It’s a confirmation of existence on a very simple level.
25.8 x 31.8cm, embroidery on fabric
I think the lack of egoism is important.
I’m more of an inspiration type of person, but in that case, it’s important to know how carefully and painstakingly I can let the images that come into my head out of my mind. It is important to be able to create works of art with a high degree of purity. That’s what’s important. The taste of the work may also emphasize innocence.
33 x 33cm, embroidery, fabric, panel
In other words, Mr. Asama is the one who stands between inspiration and artwork.
That’s why I don’t think I should put my ego, my likes or dislikes, or anything like that in front of me. When my ego enters, it becomes cloudy. You can’t be angry, you can’t be upbeat. You can’t be angry or upset, you can’t be thinking about how you want to be evaluated or how you want to look. I feel that my work becomes muddy.
In Surrealism, there is a method called “automatic writing” that is used to eliminate the ego of the artist. It’s similar to that.
In my case, it’s more like “guiding the inspiration so that it takes shape. I use embroidery as a way to materialize an insubstantial image. Slowly, through repetitive actions, I give it shape. I don’t put my own preferences into it. It’s much better than thinking about it in my head. It’s like “I have an idea,” “I sketch it,” and “I embroider it on canvas.
31.8 x 25.8cm, embroidery on fabric
Last but not least, what does it mean to you to create?
It’s like standing between inspiration and the work, and helping the flow of the transformation from the mental to the physical. How can I carefully scoop up a fresh idea? That’s the game.
I used to have a complex when people said to me, “You’re a shaman, not an artist,” but now I don’t mind. I think it’s more of an identity. But that’s why I take care of my body and soul. If I’m sick or mentally ill, I can’t do good work. It’s important for me to be a good vessel.
Born in Iwate Prefecture in 1977, graduated from Suruga University in 2000 with a degree in law. After graduating from the university, he studied illustration at the Setsu Mode Seminar Graduate School and the AIT (Arts Initiative Tokyo) Artist Course, etc. He started his career as an artist in 2014. Major exhibitions include TERADA SOKO ART STAND EXIBIHION (2015), New York Ashok Jain Gallery (2016), spiral take art collection (2017), art formosa Taipei (2018).