~ INTRO ~
A friend of a friend led to the interview opportunity with mixed media creative Taiko Fujimura. The following quote lays out what she works to express in her creations. “The concepts she explores include quietude, peacefulness, harmony, unity, and universality. Her work is strongly influenced by Japanese wabi-sabi, an aesthetic system she strongly believes to be “beautiful” art and Japanese calligraphy, which she has studied since age six.” Hmm, I just noticed, that like my previous interview, Taiko started studying Japanese calligraphy at the age of six. Maybe that’s the age when young Japanese women traditionally begin to learn this. Could the inclusion of the study of this medium in Japanese culture spark a sense of creative expression? I caught up with her at a group show at the Market Street Gallery during San Francisco’s city-wide month of open studios.
Moments Of Truth ~ Hello Taiko Fujimura, thank you for taking this time during your open gallery to sit down and tell us about yourself, creative process, and work. Could you please describe the medium you work in?
Taiko Fujimura ~ I use acrylic in my painting works. My passion though is sculpture. Unfortunately, because of space constraints I paint to be able to store the works easily. I do enjoy painting as it allows me a certain freedom to do a lot. If it’s a 3D image [sculpture] I need to think about spatial elements, math involved. Just a lot of thinking and preparing involved.
One sculpture project I really enjoyed entitled “Ikebana” I like conceptual art. Sculpture is a medium that realizes my conceptual way of thinking. (An excerpt of her description describes “This series is an experimental abstract three-dimensional form that asks the audience to define their personal aesthetic sensibilities. Similar to how the placement of each flower in a vase may evoke distinct aesthetic reactions about the entire arrangement, the abstract depictions of objects in these pieces are constructed using discrete mathematical and technical principles.” Some images of this project can be viewed here: Series_Ikebana
MOT ~ So given the opportunity, without space constraints, would you focus your energy on dealing with conceptual ideas in the 3D realm of sculpture?
TF ~ I think soooo (she sounds possibly skeptical to make a statement in that regards).
MOT ~ Where did you grow up?
TF ~ I’m from northern Japan. It’s a smaller community. Maybe that’s what struck me. I imagined seeing the world, and so I traveled around when I was younger.
MOT ~ Are you parents or any other close family members artists as well?
TF ~ My uncle is and mother as well. My mother is a dancer but she didn’t teach me though, because my father didn’t want me to dance in front of people. So they told me to learn calligraphy instead. Essentially they wanted me to sit down quietly, and be a ‘nice girl.’ (she breaks out into laughter at the thought of the ‘nice girl.’) That’s what I worked in for a long time.
After I left Japan I felt this freedom that I don’t need to be a ‘good girl’ so much. That I could do whatever I want. And so I did start to get into performance, singing. I used to be a singer. It was fun. Eventually it’s grown into my focus on painting, but I’m always working in some creative medium to express myself.
MOT ~ Through these various mediums, and more specifically what you’ve been working on more recently, have you had any mentors? (As I’m trying to ask the question, city life strikes as sirens blare by just outside on Market Street causing a little distraction and possibly shook to the system.)
TF ~ Yes, especially within the calligraphy. I would exchange what I could for them to teach me. Like maybe some accounting or house cleaning, whatever. I learned a lot from them. I’ve also taken classes at the Asian Art Museum working with Chinese brushes and techniques. They instructed how to harness and use your energy and that around you. I’ve always been interested in Chinese philosophy and wanted to understand it better.
MOT ~ So what is it that inspires you to work in these expressive mediums, be it sculpture, singing, dance, performance, painting? Can you explain those elements inside you that are driving you to do this?
TF ~ Hmmm, really everything inspires. Every day I have different ideas of creating things. Maybe I get confused or distracted easily by all these ideas that jump into my head. I try to choose the best one, but it’s hard. You know, when you walk around and see a car or trees and it sparks something in me.
MOT ~ How do you filter that? What allows you to make the decision what to work on?
TF ~ Usually I create a few things at the same time. As I work on them I’ll do some comparisons that will help me decide which one(s) are more successful or represent my idea best. Also I try not to do work similar to the current trends, especially American ones. I try to differentiate myself. But still I create different kinds of art and refine my style.
MOT ~ Can you elaborate on this difference you see that exists between this ‘American Style’ and the style you’re trying to refine? What’s different about it?
TF ~ (She takes a long breath and pause to figure out a way to put it into words) Umm, well I guess I work at trying to create something that I don’t believe I’ve seen here in the states. Maybe to describe what I mean it would be a mixture of European and Japanese ideas. That would be a little bit of philosophy, imagery, history, blended together.
MOT ~ Do you have any particular influences aside from nature and just walking around seeing things that encourage you or drive you to create? Are there any artists, for example, that may have struck you at a young age?
TF ~ Marcel Duchamp is one, a French artist into cubism, futurism and Dadaism. One of those people working in that realm of ready made art, of ‘Urinary’ fame.
(According to Wikipedia Henri Robert Marcel Duchamp is often associated with Dada and surrealist art movements. His influence on post WWII art and art collecting by the works he created to shake up peoples thoughts on artistic processes and art marketing)
”The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.” (Marcel Duchamp)
I think he created these particularly shocking works in his 50’s or 60’s before I was even born. These ideas were so avant-garde at that time. What I admire is that he tried to work in different styles and challenge the ideas of the time. People criticize him, say what he did was kind of stupid and blah blah blah, but he still kept doing what he thought he needed to do. I respect that.
One issue that I think exists for many living artists is to create art for arts sake.
MOT ~ Do you have set creative goals that you have achieved and or are still working to achieve? Could you please describe them?
TF ~ So, I’m sort of everywhere it seems. My main goal is to continue to refine my style. A more concrete goal for this year and the following is to get my work out and have more shows in the states and in Japan.
MOT ~ Can you be more specific about what you are doing to develop that singular style?
TF ~ Well, I think I need to open my eyes and look around more. I see my attraction to so many things as a problem. I like everything, different kinds of arts. Slowly I’m narrowing my focus, as I’ve now restricted myself to visual arts and not the dancing, singing, performance stuff.
(As I’m transcribing this interview, I’m remembering that we were interrupted by someone arriving to film an interview with another one of the artists sharing the open studio at the gallery. Suddenly Taiko and I are almost whispering our questions and answers to each other as the others converse in the front area. We are now actually sitting in a corner where several pieces of her work are situated and it’s almost as if these paintings are whispering at us too.)
Returning to the idea of sculpture, I really enjoy working with these ideas of physics, because it has to stand up and withstand various elements. Connecting the different materials together also provides other interesting challenges. Painting seems a little more simple with the bushes, canvas, paints. Not so many physical tools involved as in sculpture and I find that easier to a certain extent.
What I’d really like to say, my general idea or philosophy is that two opposites co-exist in our space. This can be seen in certain simple dichotomies like female to male, bad to good, light to dark, you know, that kind of stuff. With my work, I seek to find a way that realizes the coexistence of this dualism. At the same time, I want the viewer to feel happy and harmonized. Females cannot totally understand males, people can’t totally understand each other, it’s just so hard to realize that understanding. For example bad people, totally bad people cannot understand good people in the same way. (giggling a little as she say’s) I might be wrong… but I see these two extremes and try to find the middle ground. That’s part of why I choose to use extreme colors in my works. Like black and red, or white and black and use that composition and palette to illustrate this idea.
Before this I was thinking more in terms of an eastern versus western and trying to bridge that gap to create better understanding.
MOT ~ It sounds like you imagine a very broad global audience that you’re trying to bring together?
TF ~ Yes, I’d agree with that.
MOT ~ Have dreams ever come up in your work? Or how do you view dreams and do they play any role in your work or your past, say childhood?
TF ~ Yes, I have very vivid dreams that I try to sketch. Usually I’ll remember them for a long time after having them and they tend to be colorful.
MOT ~ Could you break down in step by step terms your process from idea inception to final work?
TF ~ It changes at times. One day I may look at my old pictures and photos and see something that catches me enough to start painting. I generally wont complete it, but go on to something else to come back to it at a later time. If I find some recycling materials, something that I think is so pretty that it shouldn’t be thrown away I’ll preserve it to use on something in the future. I don’t like waste. I can work quickly too, especially if I have a deadline. Deadlines can prove helpful for me, which is one reason I try to schedule shows. They force me to get to work. Otherwise I just might take forever.
MOT ~ So you mentioned that you tend to spend a lot of time on a piece, and employ deadlines to help you get something done. Say if you remove that, how do you know when a piece is complete?
TF ~ Yea, it’s a difficult part. Especially when it’s painting. Maybe it’s a subconscious decision for me. If I want to do a realistic piece, I’ll be conscious. For more abstract works, I think it’s acceptable to be unconscious about it.
MOT ~ Say you had the opportunity to meet some creative person, someone you admire, or say Duchamp or somebody, do you have any glaring questions you’d like to ask?
TF ~ Sure, I often go to shows, art receptions, try to find the artist and ask questions to learn more about them. Say like “which to you consider your best piece, and why?” Just general questions I guess, to try and understand them as a person and how they may be reflected in their work.
Taiko has a lot going on. Pay a visit to her site for more photos of her work and upcoming events. taikofujimura.com
Also check out other upcoming shows at Market Street Gallery