Interview: Aomi Kikuchi
Luca Curci talks with Aomi Kikuchi during THE BODY LANGUAGE, VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR and during the three appointments of BORDERS ART FAIR 2021, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
“I make sculptures, wall pieces and garments using textiles and found objects to explore Japanese aesthetics and the philosophy of Buddha. They are “Wabi-Sabi”, the beauty found in imperfections, and ”Mono-no-aware”, the feeling of sympathy for changing or perishing phenomena or substances. Closely related to the philosophy of Buddha, these can be summarized in three keywords: impermanence, insubstantiality, and suffering. My work addresses infinity as the succession of fleeting and brittle activities. With freedom and flexibility, I combine acquired knowledge and experiment and create art to inspire dialogue and reflection on these concepts through materials and aesthetic philosophies. I actively use scraps that come from both my working practice and the environment around me.”
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Aomi Kikuchi – Art is a dialogue with myself and a means of interacting with the world.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
AK – My first professional career was as a fashion designer. Later I was mesmerized by Mr Itchiku Kubota’s Tsujigahana dyeing and started learning Kimono Yuzen dyeing. I continued to obtain various dyeing methods from dyeing craftsmen. Besides dyeing, I gained various other techniques so that I can create my work regardless of genre. These include Western/Japanese painting, drawing and ceramics, which are the basic skills of art. I practised moulding, knitting, sewing, braiding, Japanese embroidery, and Porcelain painting as well. I am particularly interested in traditional Japanese craft techniques and fibre/textile art. Currently, I am refining my Japanese Kimono weaving and lacquer techniques in Kyoto. While producing works and honing my skills and knowledge, I received a BFA from Kyoto University Art and Design, and an MFA from Pratt Institute.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
AK – The following are sources of inspiration for my work. Buddhist Philosophy: The world’s impermanence, insubstantiality, and the idea of accepting it reduce attachment and greed and free us from suffering. Japanese aesthetics: Wabi-sabi; enjoying imperfections. Mono no Aware; mercy for all living things and nature. How to grasp the concept of infinity in a finite world. Everyday life, world affairs, problems faced by the world today.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
AK – The concept of art is very broad and covers activities of various genres. Through these activities, I think that the definition of an artist changes over time. Being an artist in the present age is about being a creator who seeks innovation every day with the flow of time.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
AK – Previously, I focused on dyeing silk fabrics based on the traditional Japanese Yuzen kimono method that I practised for a long time. Gradually, by mixing the knowledge I acquired, I began to work beyond traditional genres and rules, focusing on my artist statement. My choice of materials has also shifted from expensive silk fabrics to fragile and unstable stuff such as goose down and cotton fibre. I actively use scrap from my work and also use any materials I come across in my daily life.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival, “Future Landscapes”? How did it inspire you?
AK – When I think of landscapes, I first think of physical landscapes such as urban buildings and country houses. However, in this exhibition, the focus is on the relationship between the concept of landscape and people rather than appearance. When I noticed that a new era of the landscape can be seen by digging deeper into that relationship, I was inspired to stir my imagination.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition “Future Landscapes” is connected with the festival’s theme?
AK – My work does not fit into the general theme of “landscape”, but in order to create a new landscape or reconsider the relationship between people and nature, I think my work is very relevant. The skeleton had always been a terrifying symbol of death for me, and I couldn’t even think of making it into my work. However, by confronting that fear and appreciating the skeleton, and by making it into my work, I overcame my negative emotions. With all the characteristics of a person like race and gender taken away, the ivory object has become a symbol of equality for me. Having a positive perspective when looking at things is very important and meaningful in order to make this world a better place. And I think that the “landscape” will change as new perspectives and ways of thinking are reflected.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
AK – Since participating in the exhibition called The Body Language, I have been exhibiting my work in a series of exhibitions curated by Itsliquid. Frequent transportation is a heavy physical and financial burden for international artists. I am grateful that more people will enjoy my work over longer periods of time. I’m like to continue participating in exhibitions with various titles.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
AK – Even with the world’s current situation that has been limiting many activities, I have been able to continue exhibiting starting with The Body Language exhibition. I have not been able to go to Venice, but I am having a good experience by being able to connect with an artist who participated in the same exhibition.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
AK – Notably, the platform covers almost all aesthetic creativity, including contemporary art, architecture, design and fashion. It also cares about environmental activism. Although the classification of genres can clarify professionalism, it tends to create inflexibility which makes it difficult to share ideas and collaborations between professionals. I believe your platform is very important as it can provide liquidity across each genre of creativity.