Interviews | April 9, 2023 |

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Image courtesy of Yuko Kokubun

Interview: Yuko Kokubun
Luca Curci talks with Yuko Kokubun, honourable mention of ITSLIQUID International Contest – 13th Edition.

Yuko Kokubun is an artist based in Tokyo, Japan. She earned a BFA in oil painting in 2008 and a master’s degree in art anatomy in 2010, both at the Tokyo University of the Arts. Her interest in the body, spatial art, and playground equipment began when she was a member of the rhythmic gymnastics club in high school. Since her university days, she has been taking workshops with various dancers, including Butoh dancers, examining dance methods, and exploring how to incorporate various elements of performing arts into painting.

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Image courtesy of Yuko Kokubun

Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Yuko Kokubun –
Working to explore the depths of the world. It is a medium that to me encompassed the diverse cultures of humanity.

LC – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
YK –
I have loved drawing and painting since I was a child, and I would spend as much as three hours staring at my favourite paintings. However, I have encountered the performing arts and realized that art is not only visual but can also be made up of various other elements. That is why I think that the performing arts became an important element in my paintings.

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Image courtesy of Yuko Kokubun

LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
YK –
I find inspiration in contemporary circus, performing arts and human anatomy. The concept is “Theatre of the Earth,” and the artist creates paintings based on a dramatic interpretation of the relationship between humans and other living creatures.

LC – How much has the city/country in which you grew up/born affected your work as an artist?
YK –
I realized that as in my paintings, I do not try to create particular effects by manipulating the use of light, my works may have something in common with the old form of Kabuki, performed under natural light. In my case, the reason why this happens is that I start from college, but I think this gives my works a mysterious sort of charm.

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Image courtesy of Yuko Kokubun

LC – Among the several techniques you use, which one do you prefer to practice and which of them is most compelling for you?
YK –
Recently I’ve been practising mostly collage to create paintings as anatomical stage works, in which various parts of living creatures and designs created by human culture are cut up into small pieces and arranged in a narrow space that resembles a stage. The act of cutting up is a way to explore new possibilities by freeing the form from someone else’s standards of value, which were designed with some intention, photographed, and recorded in printed matter. All of these are “memes” of the DNA of cultural information, and cutting them up frees us from the daily clutches of our various conventions and value judgments. My anatomical collages follow the festive structure of the performing arts, which combines various races and cultures in all directions, affirming the existence of all those who take the stage.

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Image courtesy of Yuko Kokubun
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Image courtesy of Yuko Kokubun

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