A New-York based Artist
The Wise Owl talks to Yuko Kyutoku, a contemporary artist based in New York. She was born in Gifu and grew up in Aichi, Japan. Having grown up next to both nature with mountains and rivers, and urban areas, her love of nature and the outdoors is reflected in her art work.
The Interview : Yuko Kyutoku
(Rachna Singh, Editor, The Wise Owl, Talks to Yuko Kyutoku)
The Wise Owl talks to Yuko Kyutoku, a contemporary artist based in New York. She was born in Gifu and grew up in Aichi, Japan. Having grown up next to both nature with mountains and rivers, and urban areas, her love of nature and the outdoors grew tremendously. Throughout her life, Yuko has always been fascinated by images and how the world is represented through the eyes of others.
Yuko has held numerous shows internationally. She has exhibited her art in solo shows at the Obuchi Gallery, the General Consulate of Japan in New York, Gallery Petite, Cafe Grumpy, Local Project Art Space, and Yada City Gallery. She also collaborated with other artists and was a part of group shows at Local Project Art Space last year and this year. Her works and shows were featured in numerous art magazines, online platforms, and major newspapers, including Create! Magazine, Seikyo Newspaper, DoodleWash, and Globo Arte Magazine, as well as in an interview with Sakura Radio in New York.
Yuko has received many scholarships and awards, including the Juror's Choice Award for her printmaking book from Julian Kreimer, in 2015. She has worked for the Aichi Triennale, which is an urban international art festival held at the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art and the Aichi Art Center in Japan. She works as an artist to produce artwork and plans to exhibit her recent work in solo shows this year in Japan and New York.
Thank you Yuko for taking time out to talk to The Wise Owl.
RS: For the benefit of the readers please tell us what attracted you to art? Were there any creative influences in your life who/which encouraged you in your pursuit of art?
YK: I have loved art since I was a kid. My family loves art, and they purchased and displayed many paintings in our home growing up. My father used to take me to museums and sign me up for many art classes at the local center. I also met many great art teachers who made an impact on me. My grandmother is also a painter, and she often encouraged me to create art since she believed I had a talent.
RS: I was looking at your gallery of work; you do drawings, paintings, photography as well as sculpture. Our readers would be curious to know which is your favourite art form? Or should I say which art form gives you the maximum creative satisfaction?
YK: I love working on all the mediums I use because each offers me different experiences. However, my favorite medium all the time is drawing and painting. I like using my hands to draw details using pens, as well as create texture using water fluid paints.
RS: You are a prolific painter. What medium do you like working in best (watercolours, oils, acrylics etc) and why?
YK: Thank you so much. I like working on gouache because the quality of the painting is almost between watercolor and acrylic paints. I like the thickness of the paper, which works like acrylic and creates graphic images on paper. However, if I add water, the gouache paints work like watercolors, which allow me to create expressive movements on the surface. I love the flexibility of gouache paints.
RS: While looking at your artworks, I realised that the predominant colour you use is blue, especially an indigo blue. Our viewers & readers would be curious to know if there is any particular significance of this colour for you?
YK: Blue is my favorite color all the time. For me, the blue color is a happiness color; it brings me peace, joy, excitement, beauty, and all. I also feel possibilities with the colors; I can create any artwork I want without fear or hesitation. Blue speaks to me the most.
Indigo Blue also links to my home country, Japan. In Japanese painting, Ukiyoe, there are lots of indigo blues you can find, and I also got inspiration from my roots.
RS: You have worked as an artist in Japan as well as USA. Is the art milieu of these countries different? If so how?
YK: There are many differences between Japanese contemporary art and American contemporary art. Japanese embrace works that are aesthetically beautiful rather than the content or ideas expressed in artworks. In the US, we embrace the ideas behind the works and enjoy how they reflect the current era.
RS: Your grandmother was an established artist in Japan. Has Japanese traditional art influenced your artwork? If so, how?
YK: I love Japanese ukiyo-e painting. I get many inspirations from the paintings. One of them is the use of indigo blue. I purchased Japanese traditional painting pigments every time I went to Japan, and I use the indigo painting pigments when I create my paintings. Second are the themes of the Ukiyoe paintings, which depict local people and nature. These Ukiyoe paintings embrace the ordinary cityscapes and entertainments as well as the beauty of nature in Japan. I incorporate the ideas in my paintings, and my themes of paintings often include local cityscapes and people I met in my life.
RS: You have a category of artwork called ‘True Expressionism’ where you use acrylic paints, beads etc. Could you elaborate on this genre for the benefit of the readers.
YK: Sure. This was one of my senior projects from college. This piace explores my spirituality and Buddhist practices. I explored calmness and my inner self through the works. Because it is about spirituality, I decided to create an abstract and organic series of paintings. To express the idea of interconnectedness with people, the environment, and the works around me, the movements of the brushstrokes and the shapes of the paintings help me to achieve the ideas.
RS: You have exhibited your artwork in various prestigious galleries across the world and have made a place for yourself in a very competitive art world. What advice would you give upcoming artists on how to hone their craft and become an established artist?
YK: Keep making art, polish your unique style, and find your voice to express in your work. It is sometimes challenging to work as an artist; however, if you do not give up and keep working hard, there are always opportunities waiting for you.
RS: Are there any artists (traditional & contemporary) who have inspired you ? What is it about their work that attracts you the most?
YK: I like Van Gogh all the time. I love how his paintings embrace the beauty of local people, farmers, and nature. Every time I see his paintings, it gives me hope, moments of beauty, and joy, and I also hope to give the same experience to people who see my artwork. For me, the definition of good art is to contribute to people and/or society, and his paintings truly do that.
RS: If I were to ask you to describe yourself as an artist in 3 adjectives, what would they be and why?
YK: passionate, idealistic and dreamer
I am very passionate about what I do. I love paintings very much, and they give me true joy. I am also idealistic, and I have high standards and expectations for the art that I pursue and create. Lastly, I am a dreamer. I dream of my paintings, and I paint my dreams. My dreams have taken me where I am today and will take me to more places in the future.
Thanks Yuko for taking time out to talk to The Wise Owl. It was a pleasure to talk to you about your creative art and inspiration behind your art. Wishing you the best in all your artistic pursuits and hoping you continue to add colour to the world with your beautiful artwork.