Jul 19 2011

Bookmark: Kaoruko

by Contributing Artist

Kaoruko is a Japanese artist whose work explores the idea of “yamato nadeshiko”—the personification of an idealized Japanese woman. A former teen pop star in her home country, Kaoruko is also a self-taught painter who has shown her work throughout Japan, including exhibitions at the Parco Museum and Laforet Museum in Tokyo. She also designs, produces and has directed animation, music videos and TV programs in Japan. Kaoruko currently lives and works in New York. You can view her work here.

1. Japanese Kimono Patterns

Japan is a country with four distinct seasons. The beauty of nature, with its seasonal plants and animals, is often the inspiration of exquisite kimono patterns. Through these patterns, we can see and appreciate Japan’s ancient traditions, customs and lifestyle. Within each kimono pattern is an expression of celebration, hope, good fortune, longevity, happiness, protection from evil and happy married life. Japanese traditions have been passed on from generation to generation for centuries. Through my artwork, I would like everyone around the world to understand the beauty of Japanese traditions.

3. Jim Foetus

It is not possible to neatly categorize Foetus’ music as “Industrial.” Instead, his music is a sampling of acid jazz, world music, acoustic sounds and daily noise that come together to create a musical collage. My artwork has been greatly influenced by Foetus’ way of expressing his music through acoustic sense rather than visual sense.

5. Takeshi Kitano

Takeshi Kitano has been one of the most well-known comedians, filmmakers, painters and TV hosts in Japan for nearly four decades. Kitano is an incredibly hard worker who tirelessly pursues each project with energy and a creative passion. This approach has made him who he is; an extremely talented individual. I strongly believe that those who are truly “talented” are able to maximize their potential by recognizing their own abilities and limitations. I truly respect and am inspired by Takeshi Kitano’s way of living.

2. Naked Lunch By David Cronenberg

A typewriter that is able to transform itself into a bizarre creature—this scene from the David Cronenberg movie Naked Lunch (1991) reminds me of a scene from the classic Disney movie, Cinderella, in which a beautifully transformed Cinderella is swept toward the sky and twinkling stars, while dancing at the royal ball. Cronenberg weaves a narrative story and shows his magical imagination by piecing together images to create a visual collage. In Naked Lunch, the main character (William Lee) kills his wife while playing a William Tell like game. By accidentally killing her, Lee rediscovers his passion for writing. I found a certain similarity in this sad scene and the philosophy behind William Seward Burroughs’ work —pursuing his passion for art while at the same time feeling loss in his personal life.

4. Kuniyoshi Utagama (Ukiyoe)

Just like the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, my art is greatly inspired by the fascinating style of Japanese wood block prints called Ukiyoe. Among the many Ukiyoe artists, I particularly like the work of Kuniyoshi Utagawa. His ability to capture the scenic beauty of Japan on woodblock prints by employing a gradation of different hues of “blue” is something wonderful and uniquely Japanese. I am amazed by the detailed patterns and breathtakingly beautiful color combinations that can be created by a skilled Ukiyoe artist.

6. Dainipponjin/Big Man Japan by Hitoshi Matsumoto,

I am a big fan of a Japanese comedy duo called Downtown and love their surrealistic comedic creativity, which is uniquely Japanese. Dainipponjin (English title: “Big Man Japan”), a feature film directed by one of the duo, Hitoshi Matsumoto, has a very distinct presence. The film makes us recognize that there is only a very fine line between common sense and senselessness, conventional life and unconventional life, comedy and insanity.