interview at solo-exhibition, October 2019
-First of all, could you briefly explain about this solo exhibition and the works?
Narumi Sasaki: As for the composition, I arranged the paintings selected from the works that I’ve been doing for the past years and a half.
In the first place, it’s often said that my works are "Is this a sculpture, or paintings?". But in my thinking, I draw and published them as paintings. There was athe time when I tried to think thought about the existence of painting before I created the works exhibited in this solo exhibition. In this exhibition, I think that it Reflected in the form of works and exhibition methods.
-I think, the works that you present at this exhibition Contain the style of collage. Is that also the result of rethinking?
NA: I’ve tried it since around 2017 to cut canvases and combine some materials. Before then, I had been studying in France for about six months, and that was a big turning point. I went to study modern art, but I was especially interested in religious facilities. Over there, there were Christian churches, Islamic temples, Jewish institutions, mixed institutions, and I looked around the decorative arts in those places. Then, as I visited several institutions, I became to think and engrossed that the mental structures that people have to depend on for their lives, and the create that accompany them, are of course equal. Drawing, it is still hard to explain in words, but I think it may be close to that desire. But I really felt that I had to wait not only for that desire to be fulfilled, but for some other, uncontrollable force to work. That might have changed the work.
- Is the change in creation method such as cutting of canvas based on the change of consciousness?
NS: I can't state the cause and effect between them clearly, but it may be so. I started out by with combining different materials and filling the canvas just like some kind of decoration.
-There are many different kind of materials, but I think they are something in common.
NS: That’s right. I choose materials close to nature like wood, pottery, and glass, especially stained glass. Of course, in the process of mixing these various ingredients, it can be a good case but not some times. But I think it’s important to wait patiently and take a time for the combination to complete my works. Cutting the canvas is a method that came out after that.
-Cutting the canvas is the way to deal with the mixture?
NS: Sometimes I can't stand and wait when I’m drawing. When I’m faced with irresistible saturation, and I’ve been in a strong desire to turn it over and over, and I cut the canvas. But I get really surprised after I cut it, even I did. In spite of cutting canvas myself, it's really surprises. When I cut it, I think, it gets stronger. And, I feel like it can’t be going back. It’s seems as if like a natural disaster has occurred, I mean, as if the world has changed all at once. It's so impactful that it destroys a situation, and it really changes everything, but it's a big trigger. But it's not going to be zero. It's broken, but it rebuilds, and in doing so, it's not just going back to where it was. I mean, there will be a different element, and the incorporation of that element will activate the painting. The paintings that emerge as I grapple with these extraordinary situations can be more beautiful than I ever expected.
And that, in itself, is same as something I feel like the world itself. There are various scales in the world, and at a macro level, it is similar to the structure of the universe. At a small micro level, I think there is a world in the interpersonal relationships like this situation now we are talking here. I want to be aware of that relationship and its way of being when I draw, and I want to understand that.
-Moving back to your methodology, are you consciously adopting a collage-like approach, one that gives painting a layered look?
NS: I'm not plan of that during my drawing. However, there are many cases where I notice that the finished creation is multilayered, so I think it’s an important point for me.
The canvas before painting looks like a white wall, at least to me. It looks like a curtain hiding something. What I seek when I paint is probably something hidden behind the canvas.
Actually, sometimes I touch the canvas before drawing. It's white, it's empty, but there's something behind it, and I feel like I might be able to connect to it. I want to go to the back, but the wall is too thick. So, in that situation, the depth structure of a painting becomes important to me when I have a lot of different approaches to getting there.
With the position of the artist and the position of the canvas in mind, I experience many layers toward the position of the opposite side and try and try. I want to reach the other side and look at that side. So, my work style is, in a way, close to digging. I mean, it's more like digging through a canvas to the other side. I want to break through the canvas and get to the other side, so as a result, I think my works have to be layered.
-Is it important to choose materials that are close to nature in the process of “digging”?
NS: There is simply a compatibility between me and the material. I'm just interested in stones and soil. It’s a very abstract expression, but it’s interesting that stones and soil do not change their shape with time, but change their shape by polishing. There seems to be a lot of potential and meaning, stone or tree. Just for me, such materials enhance my imagination.
As for the glass, the reason why I started to use it is also the influence of visiting churches. Especially stained glass I mean.
Stained glass is placed on the wall like a canvas and stands against the sky. The light coming from behind illuminates the glass, and its colors reach into the interior of the church, which makes the viewer feel strange, and I find its structure interesting.
Also, I heard from a mural artist that cutting stained glass is a training for sisters. As with its function, the background itself seems to make sense, so it's an important material for me.
- For example, there are works such as Flexible Cosmos, that feel like a landscape painting. Is it possible to see the image you draw as the "the other side of the canvas" that you’re talking about earlier?
NS: To be honest, actually I can't put it well in my words yet. I really want to touch it myself, but I don't know for sure. It's not quite clear yet. At the time of my solo exhibition, the gallery expressed it as "metaphysical thing" for convenience, but it didn't fit me well. But I think the interpretation of landscape painting is one point.
There is a rice field, it's a pretty big rice field, at the back of my studio, and I often take a walk when I get stuck. It's a pretty big rice field.
There is a rice field, it's a pretty big rice field, at the back of my studio, and I often take a walk when I get stuck. It's a pretty big rice field. And there is no tall building, so I can see the sky very well, and I could see the sky and the horizon over there, with the moon above it. I think that looking up at the moon while I was in the rice field is similar to being on this side of the canvas and drawing to the other side. I think that the view of the world, the sense of scenery, and the feeling of the scenery of rice fields, the horizon, and the moon itself are very similar to the structure of paintings I think. I would like to deepen my research on what can be shown by that idea.