An Interview with Yumiko Kayukawa

by Denis on August 23, 2011

Yumiko Kayukawa was born and raised in the small town of Naie on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido where she graduated from the Hokkaido College of Art and Design. She moved to the United States over 10 years ago to pursue her life as an artist. She developed a unique style which blends the influences of American pop culture, Manga, modern and traditional Japanese iconography and the world of wild animals. The quality of her work has brought invitations to do solo shows at high profile galleries like The Shooting Gallery in San Francisco, Joshua Liner Gallery in New York City, La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles and, on September 9th, her new solo show will open at Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle.

We are very happy to share our interview with Yumiko Kayukawa.

von Scaramouche: Do you remember what visual art work first caught your attention / imagination and what was it about the work that captivated you?
Yumiko Kayukawa: I think it was a Guns N’ Roses album cover by Robert Williams. The art work quality and detail was beyond anything I had seen before.

vS: What motivates/drives you to paint?
YK: My big passion for nature and animals motivates me to paint. As well, since moving to the U.S., I feel a deeper connection to my home country and I’m now more excited to paint about Japanese tradition and culture. It’s always a joy to surprise people with my art and I work hard to achieve this “reward”.

vS: I’ve read that you started out creating mangas. Do you still read mangas and, if so, who is your favorite manga artist and why?
YK: I love the old stuff from 70’s & 80’s but occasionally I read some new stuff too. Macaroni Horenso by Tsubame Kamogawa is my favorite. It’s funny, cool, artistic and has a rock’n’roll flavor. I still keep the manga sets in my studio for study or to take a break.

vS: Do you have sources of inspiration that, in retrospect, you keep going back to?
YK: The older subculture is my main inspiration like old Yakuza films. Also, pop music culture is a passion of mine and it has been a good source for ideas.

vS: I saw the image of your painting for Glenn Barr’s Lyrics show that took place earlier this year. Is music a prevalent inspiration for you and in what way does it influence your art? Do you listen to music while you paint?
YK: I do listen to music while I paint, mostly rock music. Melody, lyrics or album covers are always an inspiration. I feel such a strong connection between the music coming through my ears and what my painting hand expresses on the canvas.

vS: Looking at your own work from your first gallery show to your latest, in what way do you feel it has progressed / evolved?
YK: My painting technique is definitely better. Also, I think there is more depth to my paintings these days and more subtlety in my colors too.

vS: Do you ever set aside ideas for paintings because they are not consistent with the style you are now identified with? Can you imagine a point in time where you may choose to paint in a drastically different style?
YK: I haven’t had any ideas that I wouldn’t paint. Maybe at some point in the future I will try something that is different stylistically but I don’t know. I just follow my feelings.

vS: What do you like about the idea of offering reproductions / prints of your original works?
YK: I am excited about making the images that I paint more affordable. I hope many people will enjoy them.

vS: What can you tell us about Country of Cherry Blossom?
YK: It‘s one of the works I created through my feelings of living in a foreign country. I see my home from the outside now, it’s small, old and fragile but it’s breathing and alive like a cherry blossom.

vS: Beside painting, do you express yourself creatively through other means?
YK: I love hand made things. When I have time, I customize objects like clothing or purses or even painting a wall in my room. I’m an indoor person and I never feel bored if I have time to create something.

vS: Are you sensitive to people’s interpretations of your works and will you be tempted to inform a person if you feel their interpretation is at odds with the message you intented to communicate?
YK: The one thing which disappoints me is when people say inaccurate things about me, like saying that I’m from Tokyo or that I’m copying an artist who had a shorter career than mine. But these are misunderstandings and I hope they will find out the truth one day. :) Otherwise people are free to feel how they want about my work and can have any kind of opinion, just like I do for any kind of object.

vS: Is there something you would like to say about your work that you never had a chance to say because you were never asked?
YK: If any of my art ever made you laugh, well it made me laugh too when I was painting it! I love to laugh and It makes me happy to share these laughs with everyone :)

Thank you Yumiko!

Please note that Yumiko Kayukawa’s Country of Cherry Blossom limited edition print is, as of today, available at the von Scaramouche online gallery.

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by Denis on August 23, 2011

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