Artist Interview: Nick West

Nick West is a British artist based in Tokyo. You can find out more about Nick in his bio.

In this interview, Nick talks about colour, recurring themes, and realising an idea.

Do you have a favourite color or color palette? 
I do have a favourite colour, but I have never used it in an artwork. My choice of colours is incidental to the objects I work with. When I used a subway map, the painting I produced was multi-coloured. When I used matches, the book I made was red and beige.

Do you have a favourite artist? 
There are so many artists that interest me that narrowing it down to a single one would mean that my choice would have to be revised, almost immediately. Recently, I’ve become interested in the conceptual artist Martin Creed again, but tomorrow it will be someone else

Explain your work in up to 40 words. 
The work I have made for this show uses post-war British military medals as its basis. These vertical stripes are presented chronologically, from left to right, condensing vast, unimaginable experiences into short, abstract strips of colour.

Do you explore any particular themes? If so, what? 
The themes that recur in my work are language and abstraction, but I like to think that each work explores these themes in different ways. This artwork is the first time that I have worked with specific social histories, and in many ways, this is about how we, as a culture, codify experience.

Sometimes inspiration strikes and everything comes together just as imagined and other times inspiration is just a starting place. How close is your finished piece to what you first imagined? 
If I could imagine my ideas clearly, there would be no need for me to make them. I can never quite imagine how something will look until I realise it. The fun part is seeing what I thought of and how different it is from my initial idea.

What would you like people to know about your work?  
It’s an abstract anthology based on a particular set of rules, namely, post-war British military medals. It seems extraordinary to me that such life-changing events become abbreviated into a few simple bands of colour. 


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Artist Interview: Arthur Huang

Arthur Huang is a conceptual artist from the United States. For almost ten years, he’s called Tokyo home. He founded Art Byte Critique in 2012. You can read more about Arthur here. In this interview Arthur talks about his work, inspiration and studio practice.

Do you have a favourite color or color palette? 
I tend towards monochrome in my work.  This is usually black on white, but I also like other single colors on white.  I like the simplicity of one color in my work which allows me and the viewer to focus on the line, shape and forms in the work.

Is there a book or a film that influenced you?
I am currently reading Alexander Chee’s How To Write An Autobiographical Novel which has been really interesting in terms of understanding how the creative process is used to explore personal issues and relationships.

What music/album are you currently listening to?
I currently have Perfume’s Future Pop and Hoshino Gen’s Pop Virus on heavy rotation. 

Do you have a favourite artist?
It is hard to narrow down the list to one artist, so I will give you a list in no particular order.  On Kawara, Alison Knowles, Tom Friedman, Sarah Sze, Tim Hawkinson, Julie Mehretu, Chiharu Shiota, Yoko Ono, and Matthew Ritchie. 

Explain your work in up to 40 words.
Working in the gap between science and art, I am making work that explores the notion of mundane everyday memories and activities by using my body and behaviors as the basis for that exploration.

Do you pursue any themes? If so what?
Memory, the everyday, remnants, and place are among the themes that have resonated in my studio practice over the years.

Describe your studio practice? Do you have any habits or rituals when producing art?
My studio practice has two components.  The first is based in the everyday.  Drawing, collages, and photography have been part of my daily studio practice over the last couple years.  I do not see them as an endpoint, but rather a way to keep myself engaged in my studio practice on a daily basis.  The collective work from my everyday practice helps to spur internal and external dialogues about my work.  It has been interesting to see this everyday studio practice lead to larger ideas and projects even though the intention of these practices has just been to engaged my eye and hand.

Describe your studio practice? Do you have any habits or rituals when producing art?
My studio practice has two components.  The first is based in the everyday.  Drawing, collages, and photography have been part of my daily studio practice over the last couple years.  I do not see them as an endpoint, but rather a way to keep myself engaged in my studio practice on a daily basis.  The collective work from my everyday practice helps to spur internal and external dialogues about my work.  It has been interesting to see this everyday studio practice lead to larger ideas and projects even though the intention of these practices has just been to engaged my eye and hand.

The other component of my studio practice is project and site-specific based which allows me to work on larger ideas that stem from my everyday studio practice as well as integrate the space that is being used for exhibition.  These projects tend to be dialogues between myself and the space, myself and the curator, and ultimately myself and the work.

How long have you been working in the medium used for your work for In The Details?
I have been using photography as medium off and on for the last six or seven years.  I usually pursue photographic projects with a defined endpoint just as a given time period, a particular space, or a certain behavior.

What do you like about this medium and what are its challenges?
The portability and immediacy of digital photography are the main drawn for me.  I do not think that I am a particularly good photographer in the traditional or contemporary sense and do not to call myself a photographer.  Rather, I use photography as a tool to capture of my way of seeing which feeds into other aspects of my studio practice.

Could you talk about your creative process for responding to the theme of In The Details? Did your idea come to you right away? Did you have to experiment a lot?
I originally thought of making some new work based on either the Memory Walks Project or the Daily Drawings Project to respond to the theme.  However, I had forgotten about this series of works which I completed for my “Everyday Circuits” exhibition at Gallery Camellia in 2016.  I realized that this work resonates with the theme of “In the Details” and thought it would be a great opportunity to share this series of work again in lieu of my other more exhibited projects.

One of the things I would like the viewers of my work in the exhibition to take away is to take note of the spaces that we occupy. The photographs I am exhibiting are located in the unnoticed spaces of Gallery Camellia, but I hope that visitors to our exhibition will take note of the unnoticed spaces of Gallery LeDeco and make discoveries on their own. Who knows, you may find me taking photographs in the gallery when I am in the space to start a new series of works.


Artist Interview: Lori Ono

portrait of Lori Ono at Tama River

Lori Ono is a Canadian photographer, illustrator and writer. You can read more about her on her bio page. In this interview she talks about some of her inspirations and how she created her work for In The Details.

Do you have a favourite color or color palette? 
I gravitate to black and white, but when I go for color, I often find I’m working with aqua in some combination. I also love orange with blues. Lately purple, chartreuse and charcoal call to me.

Do you have a favourite artist? 
For photography I like Edward Burtynsky and Gregory Crewdson. Burtynsky for his scale and Crewdson for his cinematic staging. I adore classic photographers such as Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Eugène Atget  and Ihei Kimura.

I also like Tim Burton and Quentin Blake. I like their humour and that messy style– cute with a hint of something… dark. It looks easy to do, but it’s not. Their drawings have a freedom and looseness I like. I struggle with not being obsessed with precision. I’d like to see that humor and looseness in my photography.

Do you pursue any themes? If so what?
I feel like a little leaf blown around by the wind of creativity. I‘m interested in almost everything. Lately I’m fascinated by mushrooms. When I look at my work, I see an examination of hidden things, hidden moments, or the ignored. I’m always looking for the underside, the hidden world, or the hidden pattern. My work also has what a friend generously called a “lyrical melancholy.”   

How do you know if an idea needs is working, needs revision or needs to be abandoned?
I struggle with that. I’m looking forward to reading my colleagues’ answers. All I can say is that if it bores me, I can’t expect it to intrigue someone else. 

Describe your studio practice? Do you have any habits or rituals when producing art?
Habits and rituals are goals for 2019! 😉 

How long have you been working in the medium used for your work for In The Details?
I’ve been doing photography for about15 years.

What do you like about this medium and what are its challenges?
I love the immediacy of photography and the way you manipulate and create moods. A darkroom space is challenging in terms of space and price.  Digital photography allows artists more flexibility. I think it’s easier to make handmade photo books or try out different analogue processes by adding digital elements.

Could you talk about your creative process for responding to the theme of In The Details? Did your idea come to you right away? Did you have to experiment a lot?
Burtynsky’s landscapes really inspired me. From the high arial perspective, you notice some really unique patterns and colors. So the idea of changing perspective to examine something intrigued me. I don’t have a drone so I decided on macro-photography. A lot of my recent work has been about mushrooms so that meshed well. The gills reminded me of ocean waves but also the sandstone formation the Wave in  Coyote Buttes which is on the Arizona-Utah border.

Sourcing mushrooms to photograph was challenging. Mushroom gills have interesting patterns, but mushrooms with large gills were hard to find. I expected I’d have to make a specialty order. Finding the large porcini mushrooms at my local yao-ya was a pleasant, and eventually tasty, surprise.