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!
Ludmilla Reisinger, journalism student at the Hanze University, wrote an article about the opening 'Everyday Japan'. Read the article here: Hanze Journalism - Manga workshop and Japanese vending machines
Thank you everyone for the fantastic opening of my exhibition "Everyday Japan" at the Oude RKZ. My compliments to Ingrid, who made a delicious Japanese meal and served Japanese snacks until midnight! We enjoyed your manga workshop a lot Marjolein de Jong, children as well as adults.🍀.
I want to thank Piyojo, Møzaika and Loekie, and our last-minute guests Gijs Deddens and Susan Kooi for the music. It was an honour to have you! Philo Ouweleen, thank you for warmly welcoming everyone. I wonder how many of our guests will start a vending machine business in Japan !
Special thanks to everyone who helped in the kitchen and behind the bar. Without you we couldn't have done this!
And all of you who visited, thank you very much! It was lovely to meet new people and see friends and acquaintances.😊🙏
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.
【Aki・Akari (autumn colors light) – part2】
This month, find an exhibition by Mino Art Info which focuses on “Akari art” or sculpted lamps made from Mino Washi paper. It will showcase the creative works of art by participants to the past “Paper Art Village Project in Mino”. Let’s take a pause and feel the autumn the warm and soft glow of light through the Mino Washi paper gives us.
Also discover “Akari no machinami ~Mino~” as well. The past prize-winning and other remarkable works from “Mino Washi Akari Art Contest & Exhibition” are now on display around the Streets of the old ‘Udatsu’ area of town.
We will also conduct a workshop, “Washi light object”.
Don’t miss any of these!
Dates: 3 & 4 November
Time: 10:00 – 16:00
Place: The Studio Yoshida (next to the former Imai Residence)
Workshop: Free (Washi light object)
For Information: Mino Cultural Hall 0575-35-0522
【秋・あかり(autumn colors light)part.2】
日時 11月3日〜4日 10:00〜16:00
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.
Thank you for reading my blog. If you're in Japan, please visit the 'Washi no noren' exhibition. My paper curtain 'Blue-and-white flycatcher' together with many other beautiful noren (traditional Japanese curtain) will be on display at the Yoshida Studio in Mino. The dates are April 30 and May 15-16 2016. Enjoy Spring in Japan!
If you're in the Netherlands you can view my linocut 'Konbini no. 1' at Galerie Iroha in Dordrecht.
My "Blue-and-white flycatcher" washi noren hangs in the beautiful historical center of Mino city. This exhibition is a celebration of the traditional Mino washi papermaking technique being listed as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
In 2013 I went to Mino for an Artist in Residence, where I stayed with a lovely family. In 1997 this Mino Artist in Residence project started, and this year all invited artists have designed a unique washi noren.
Photo's by Takaaki Otsuka
This year, while following the workshop handmade paper making in Mino, I made a lantern for the Mino Washi Akari Art Festival. You can view my lantern 'Mirai' in the photo below: the box-shaped lantern.
Mino AiRDuring the Mino Washi Akari Art Festival, visitors could also view all paper lanterns made by past participants of the Mino Artist in Residence. I made the green-and-white rectangle lantern 'Outside' in 2013 as part of the Mino Paper Art Village (Artist in Residence) project. You can view this lantern here.
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.
Thank you everyone for coming to the opening. It was such a nice day! The wonderful singing performance by Mari Fuji really moved me. With Chiemi Fukumori's dance in unison they were fantastic! Thank you very much! I hope to see your performance again somewhere in the Netherlands or maybe..Japan?
During the opening I talked about the importance of esthetics in my art and the influence of Japanese art and architecture. Furthermore I explained some of my prints taking different approaches. Since I went to Japan last year as Artist in Residence at the Itsukaichi Printstudio I mostly made prints. At the moment I am searching for a more "poetic" way of expressing light by using Japanese pigments. Also I am adding more elements of nature into my paintings. A begin has already been made in the diptych prints 'Shoji Window'.
The day ended with a Workshop Shodo (calligraphy) by Chiemi Fukumori. Enthusiastically she told us about the Japanese characters 'Kanji' and the way of writing. I was surprised to hear about the strokes inside the kanji 'wind' (Japanese: 風) meaning 'worm'.
If you didn't have the chance to come to the opening; my paintings, prints and paper boxes will be in Wunderkammer until the 21st of August. For other questions, please leave a message.
Solo Exhibition 'Gloss Over'
Where: Wunderkammer, Kanaalstraat 149a, Amsterdam
Date: July 12th - August 21st.
Sunday the 12th of July is the opening of my solo exhibition 'Gloss Over' at Wunderkammer in Amsterdam. 'Gloss Over' can mean to 'make attractive' and even 'to cover up'. Or just something that leaves a glossy shine.
I am inspired by Japanese culture, the architecture and landscape. Though I suspect that Japanese culture and architecture aren't two separate matters. I would like to refer to the essay "In praise of shadows' by Junichiro Tanizaki.
At Wunderkammer I will show my latest linocut and woodcut prints. The square shape is derived from the latticework of the Japanese shojiscreen (the shojiscreen can be seen in my previous woodcut prints also at Wunderkammer). Furthermore there will be paper light-objects and paintings, one of which will be shown for the first time.
Looking out of the windows in Japan in 2014, the view of the mountains was 'disrupted' by electricity cables. This 'cutting through' space and dealing with it on a two dimensional plane has been my subject of study for quite a while.
The things that are around us everyday, but we hardly pay attention to. Things that you find ugly or simply necessary. I think that everything should be beautiful. And to be true, I don't find it hard to imagine.
I hope to see you at the opening!
Solo Exhibition 'Gloss Over'
Where: Wunderkammer in Amsterdam.
Date: July 12th - August 21st.
Opening: July 12th / 14:00
Printmaking Studio Itsukaichi is located on a mountain nearby a shrine. The building is a former townhall. On the ground floor are press-machines, hand presses and many tools. On the first floor are the living quarters where I stayed with two Japanese printmakers: Miki Hatakeyama (silkscreen, woodcut and lithograph) and Ayumi Anzai (lithograph). You can view the works I made at the printmakingstudio here.
After Mino I not only came to love Japanese paper, I also very much enjoyed the process of how to make paper. Naturally I got excited when I learned about a paper making workshop just a few kilometres from the printmaking studio. Here are some photos of us making Gundo paper
Thank you everyone for coming! It was very nice meeting new people, as well as seeing old friends again.
For the people who could not come: until February the 22nd you can view my works at Galerie Iroha in Dordrecht.
It's a pity you missed my talk during the vernissage. If you have any questions regarding my works, feel free to contact me.
Tomorrow (January 15) starts my solo-exhibition "Scenery in Japan" at Galerie Iroha in Dordrecht.
Besides light objects from Mino paper, you can see the diptych paintings "Japanese Interior" including the latest two "Japanese Interior no. 3" and "Japanese Interior no. 4". I am particularly excited to show you my newest works: linocut- and woodcut prints on Kozo paper I made in the Fall of 2014 at Art Studio Itsukaichi.
Did you know that the traditional craft of Mino paper-making is now (since 2014) on the list of UNESCO? The paper light objects are from handmade Mino paper I made during my stay as Artist in Residence at the Mino Paper Art Village Project. Also the "Japanese Interior" diptychs are painted on handmade Mino paper I made during that time.
The title "Scenery in Japan" refers to the direct surrounding during my stays in Japan. The images for the prints for example, come from outside the Art Studio Itsukaichi. Two of them are views from the windows on the first floor.
Although my main source of inspiration is the urban landscape, for the "Japanese Interior" diptychs I was influenced by the traditional and modern Japanese interiors. The structure of the latticeworks and the openness of the architecture is interesting, something I had not experienced before. Even in modern Japanese architecture specific features can be seen, for example tatami mats and sliding doors.
The opening of the exhibition is on Sunday the 18th of January, where I also will be present.
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