Visiting Ichiro Kikuta (Dutch: below)
The last time I went to Japan was in 2017. This trip was a bit unforeseen and within a few moments I had bought a ticket to Okinawa. The first week I would stay in the cities Naha and Nago and after that I would fly back to Nagoya to assist papermaker Senda Takanori with cleaning the fibres.
Going to Okinawa was a great opportunity to meet the artist Ichiro Kikuta. In 2013 I first contacted Kikuta regarding traditional Japanese folding screens. At that time I was preparing for my art project at the Mino Paper Art Village artist in residency in Japan. In Mino I combined two traditional techniques: painting with pigments on handmade Mino washi paper. Inspired by Japanese folding screens I made three paintings on so-called 'makura byoubu', or bed screens. This is a screen -now hardly used, but once seen mainly at Ryokans (similar to a hostel) – that you place beside the pillow for privacy and to prevent draught. Kikuta paints on folding screens that he makes himself.
Kikuta picked me up from Nago town hall (I made a painting of this town hall: 'Japanese vending machine 09') and we drove all the way up to a paradise called 'Ada'. Here, Kikuta lives and works. I immediately noticed a peculiar structure of a few poles with a low roof on top. Kikuta explained that it is used to perform rituals. In fact, Ada is known for the annual ritual 'Shinugu festival'. Men are dressed-up with plants and climb the mountain to become gods. After, they descend the mountain to where the women and children are waiting for the gods. The women and children are then cleansed by the gods. Holding branches with leaves the gods touch the heads of the women and children. After this the gods go into the sea where they get rid off the plants and become human again. The same evening the women dance in front of the structure with the low roof. They wear indigo dyed kimono's with bright spots. The more I asked the more I felt that this whole ritual was clouded in mystery. When I asked about what the men are doing on the mountaintop, Kikuta answered that they sing: he hey ho.
In Kikuta's studio
It was on Okinawa that my idea about painting a series of twelve vending machines came to life. It goes without saying that my art and Kikuta's art are worlds apart. Even so, I have a deep respect and admiration for his art. Having had the experience of participating in two artist in residences in Japan, the urge of wanting to paint what you see and feel that very moment turned out to become very meaningful. And because of this I was able to understand Kikuta's art, which he derives from the nature surrounding him.
Kikuta's studio is spacious and light. Big windows and sliding doors make the border between inside and outside very thin. Kikuta displayed the many folding screens in various sizes for me to see. I was engrossed while watching the sceneries of plants and birds. I think I can only explain it through the simple words: I experienced the spirit of nature through the hands of Kikuta. If you are interested in the more poetic and spiritual (I'd say meaningful) way of how a painting and the practise of painting can be experienced from the artists' mind, I recommend the novel 'Kusamakura' by Natsume Soseki.
About Kikuta's art
Kikuta mainly uses ink washes. Because of this, Kikuta adds, composition is much more important. The white (empty) space becomes very important, something meaningful. We all have five senses, but there is also something else, like something from another world. Kikuta explains: For example, a dog can't see colours. Or, inside a cave you don't know about the existence of colours because you can't see them. There is a world unknown to us that exists. Some kind of fantasy that exists beyond our five senses.
Kikuta goes out into nature to draw many sketches of animals and plants. Being in nature is not just in order to observe it: It's important to become part of nature, to be together for several days. Kikuta makes many sketches outside before he paints them on the folding screen. If you want to know more about Kikuta, please go to his website: http://kikutaichiro.com/
Going to Peru
Besides making his own folding screens, Kikuta also makes his own paints from resources he finds in nature. Because I also use pigments I find this really interesting. Over the years I have collected many ready-made bags with pigments. Besides the vividness of the colours, I love the process of grinding and mixing them with glue and water into paint. Also, the fragrances of the many pigments is a real delight. Last year, in the Summer of 2018, I went to Latvia to participate in the '2nd International Painting Plein Air Valdis Bušs' artist in residency. Inspired by Kikuta and the 'Walk of Art' project by Dutch artist Aafke Ytsma, I could no longer contain my longing to nature. Those two weeks in Latvia were really just the beginning of my new journey. In September of this year I will spend four weeks in the Peruvian Amazonian Rainforest. I will learn how to find and make my own natural pigments. Also I will learn how to make ecological paper from resources such like the pulp of banana trees. Just like in Latvia I will take my lightweight easel with me to enjoy painting outside. It's like a dream come true!
Afgelopen dinsdag praatte Paulien Cornelisse over haar nieuwe boek 'Taal voor de leuk' in het tv-programma Koffietijd. Mijn kunst kwam ook even ter sprake. Ze volgt me op Instagram.
Ik leerde Paulien eigenlijk kennen door het tv-programma 'Tokidoki'. In het programma, dat zich in Japan afspeelt, onderzoekt Paulien een facet van de cultuur aan de hand van een Japans woord. Ik vond het bijzonder hoe Paulien op een integere manier een intiem beeld van Japan liet zien, een land waar ik zelf veel geslotenheid ervaar.
In 2013 I was 'Artist in Residence' in the beautiful village of Mino in Japan. This AiR came to a halt in 2016, but still offers assistance to self-funded artists.
This year a special exhibition showcases handmade paper Etegami works by past participants of the Mino Artist in Residence. My picture letter will be among more than 50 other Etegami art works.
Etegami (e means picture and tegami means letter/ message) consists of a simple drawing accompanied by a few words on a postcards to be mailed to one’s friends.
If you are in Japan, try to take a detour and visit Mino, known for its quality handmade paper and Edo-period streets with 'udatsu' roofs. And please feel welcome to enjoy the many beautiful Etegami at studio Yoshida
Dates: Wed. 21 March – Sun. 25 March
Time: 10:00 – 16:00
Place: Studio Yoshida (next to former Imai Residence)
I am so thankful for the wonderful opportunity of showing my latest series 'Japanese vending machine' at the Martini Ziekenhuis in Groningen. If you are around or would like to visit my exhibition, please leave a message and I'd love to come and explain more about this series. Otherwise, you can find my paintings at the 'orange corridor', route 0.8.
✿You have the chance to visit the exhibition until April 9th✿
For more information about this series, click on the following link.
Flyer expositie Japanse verkoopautomaten
I am also happy to announce that I have printed the images from this series on postcards which are for sale. If you are interested in purchasing them, you can leave a message here or write to email@example.com
If you would like to know about my recent doings, I update my process quite regularly on Instagram.
View of several paintings now on show
A total of 12 postcards.
The history of Mino Washi paper goes back 1300 years. It was admired for its beauty, strength and softness. During the Edo period Mino Washi became a luxury and was being used for sliding doors.
In 2014 Unesco placed the traditional craft of hand making paper from Mino, Misumi-cho and Ogawa on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In Mino this special paper is called "Hon-minoshi".
The bark used for "Hon-Minoshi" comes from the finest Mullberry tree (Nasu Kozo). During the 5 days paper making workshop we learned about the process of making Mino Washi paper. The main activity was making large-sized papers. Other things we did were washing the bark in the water basin, putting the bark inside the boiling pot of water and soda, and taking out the dark and hard bits left inside the bark. The photos show some of the steps made during the process of making Mino Washi paper. I hope you enjoy the photos! View my previous post to see an article about me in the Chunichi Shimbun.
De geschiedenis van Mino Washi papier begon 1300 jaar geleden. Toen al werd het bewonderd om haar schoonheid, kracht en zachtheid. Tijdens de Edo-periode (1603- 1868) was Mino Washi een luxe product en werd het gebruikt voor schuifdeuren.
In 2014 plaatste Unesco de traditionele ambacht van het met de hand maken van papier uit Mino, Misumi-cho en Ogawa op de lijst van "Immaterieel Cultureel Erfgoed van de mensheid". In Mino wordt dit speciale papier "Hon-minoshi" genoemd.
De vezels van de beste Moerbeiboom 'Nasu Kozo' worden gebruikt voor het maken van "Hon-Minoshi". Tijdens de 5 dagen van de workshop leerden we over het proces van het maken van Mino Washi papier. Maar de meeste tijd besteedden we aan het maken van Mino Washi papier zelf. We gebruikten een grote 'suketa' dat door middel van draden aan bamboestokken hing. Al snel ervaarde ik waarom, omdat de mix van water met papier en aoi tororo erg zwaar was. Daarbij moest je gecontroleerde bewegingen met de 'suketa' maken, zodat het papier mooi en sterk wordt.
Andere dingen die we deden was het wassen van de witte bast in het bassin, de bast in de kokende pot met alkaline doen- en er later weer uithalen, en de donkere en harde stukjes uit de bast halen. De foto's tonen een aantal van de stappen tijdens het proces van het maken van Mino Washi papier.
Een artikel over mijn deelname aan deze workshop is in de Chunichi Shimbun (krant) verschenen.
This year I went to Mino for the second time to follow a 5- days paper making workshop at the Mino Washi Traditional Paper Museum. Our teacher Ichihara Toshiko-sensei, a professional Mino Washi papermaker, taught us the process of making Mino washi. We spent most of the time making large-sized washi. I was interviewed by the"Chunichi Shimbun" about why I follow this workshop and my admiration and use of Mino washi paper. The photo shows me taking out the dark and hard bits (chiritori) from the fibers.