Yosuke Ueno is a self-taught painter who has been creating, drawing, and painting original characters ever since he was a young child. Even though his interest in art was not well-received by his parents, and even though he was disquieted by his parents’ disapproval, he persevered. And, in 1994, when he was sixteen, he had his first solo exhibition in Japan.

Yosuke’s paintings used to be all about death and psychopathology. But, in his early twenties, he made a huge decision to paint about “love, positive energy, and space” instead. Now, he’s known for his innocent-looking characters, use of vibrant colors, and symbolism. He uses red, green, yellow, and blue to represent the four bases of DNA: adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine (or A, T, G and C); which are the molecular elements all animate beings share.

Recently, I had the pleasure of conducting an online interview with him. Meanings and connotations can be missing (or, sometimes, altered) in translations. So, for our readers who understand Japanese – to do his insightful replies justice – I decided to include his original reply in this article.

yosuke-ueno_15_beautiful-bizarre

[Disclaimer: This is not a word-for-word translation]

I noticed that most of your recent works have the word “love” painted all over the things your characters wear (and, sometimes, even on their hair). Does it symbolize anything?

I’ve been using ATGC (the four bases of DNA) to describe/represent love; but, sometimes, I just write the word love. Both of them have the same meaning.

長い間loveの表現としてATGCというDNAの塩基を作品に描いていましたが、もっとシンプルにLOVEと表記することもあります。どちらも同じものを意味しています。

yosuke ueno - I’ve read that one of your dream projects is to design apparel. Your female characters look stylish with their “love” motif outfits. Are those the kinds of looks you envision for the clothing you wish to design? Or would you rather design outfits with fabrics with your paintings printed on them?

I’ve been designing apparel as a hobby since I was 13. Printing images on t-shirts is easy and fun; so, I never get bored of it. It’s fun to print my own characters on t-shirts.

I’m looking forward to launch the outfits I design in a near future. Unfortunately, at this moment, I’m unable to provide you with more details. But, if you are interested to receive the up-to-date information about it, please follow me on Facebook.

13歳の頃から趣味でファッションデザインをしています。Tシャツなどは簡単にプリントできるし、楽しいので飽きません。絵画作品の登場人物に自分でデザインしたものを着せるのも楽しいです。

詳しいことはまだ言えないのが残念ですが、近いうちに僕がデザインしたアパレルが発売されます。僕も楽しみですが、いろいろな方にぜひ着て欲しいです。興味のある方は僕のFacebookなどをフォローしてもらえると情報が早い思います。

yosuke ueno - cloud dragon - positive energyAbout the triptych displayed at the Melancholy Menagerie (group exhibition) in Fullerton Museum Center (“Cloud Dragon/Positive Energy no.8”): Did you paint it specifically for the show? I can see that the triptych is a good representation of your works. There are many elements of your previous works included: The doll-like girl with colorful hair that represents ATGC, the love print, the scissors-and-butterfly, the character seen in the “NNA” painting, the clouds, Buddha’s head, the elephant, the walking couple sculpture, the warped surface, etc. Did you intentionally incorporate them into the triptych?

First of all, thanks for researching about my works in great detail.

I didn’t paint the painting specifically for the show. The painting caught the curator’s eyes and she decided to exhibit it in the museum.

The various characters in the painting are riding on the cloud dragon in another dimension. The complex layered background is inspired by book written by Lisa Randall: “Warped Passages: Unraveling the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions.” And, the girl standing at the front is pointing at a number 8. The number refers to the fact that it’s my 8th work in my Positive Energy series. But, not just that . . . (the shape of) the number also symbolizes infinity.

まずあなたが僕の作品をすごく調べてくれていることに感謝します。

このショウのために描いたものではありません。たまたまキュレーターの方の目に止まり今回発表することができました。

この絵は様々なキャラクターを乗せた雲の龍が異次元を飛んでいるイメージです。背景の複雑なレイヤーは「複雑に重なる次元」というリサランドール博士の本からインスパイアされたものです。先頭の女の子が指差す先には数字の8。これはポジティブエナジーシリーズの8番目という意味もありますが無限を表す∞でもあります。

yosuke-ueno_14_beautiful-bizarreI see there are so many dark, gloomy, and disturbing artworks out there. Unlike those artists, you want your works to emit positive energies. Is there any reason behind it?

When I was a teenager, I used to think that painting dark or negative works is cool. But at some point, I realized that my works are my words/messages to my friends. So, I decided to switch into my current style.

Ultimately, negativity leads to suicide. I glimpsed something (horrible) at the bottom of negativity; so, I decided to stop spreading negative energies. Though some of my works might portray dark imageries, they also show that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

十代の頃は暗くネガティヴな絵をカッコいいと思って描いていました。しかしいつからか自分の作品は自分の友達に宛てた言葉のようなものだと気付き今のスタイルに変わっていきました。ネガティブを徹底的に突き詰めるとそこには自殺しかないと思います。ネガティブの底に横たわっているものが見えた瞬間、負のエネルギーを撒き散らすのはもうやめようと思いました。例え僕の作品の中に暗いイメージのものがあっても必ずその向う先にはポジティヴなものであるようにしかけています。

yosuke ueno - nna - never negative againOur readers might want to know why you name your website Spaceegg. Does it carry any special meaning or memory to you?

I’ve been using spaceegg77 as an artist name since I was a teenager (I don’t remember the exact time/year).

Ever since I was a child, I had a big question in my head. Once, I wrote a poem about the question: The quantity and the volume of a brain are finite; but, how come a brain can come up with infinite ideas? It’s as if a brain is an egg that creates a universe. I use the word “space egg” to sum up all of those concepts.

spaceegg77という名前をいつから使っているかもう忘れてしましましたがおそらく十代半ばくらいからだと思います。
僕には子供の頃から大きな疑問がありました。そしてその疑問を詩として書いたことがあります。
なぜ質量も体積も有限なこの脳が 無限の発想をするのだろう
脳はまるで 宇宙を生み出す卵のようだ
スペースエッグという言葉の意味はここに全て現れています

yosuke ueno - nna figuresOut of curiosity, did you produce your sculptures/figures yourself?

My NNA figures are produced – in limited quantities – by Mighty Jaxx. It comes in several different colors. I like this character; so, I’m happy Mighty Jaxx decided to produce it.

In the future, if I have more opportunity, I will make more figures.

I’ve been making 3D arts, but I don’t display many of them.
I’ve been working on several clay sculptures; but, I don’t know whether I’m going to exhibit them.

Mighty Jaxx からNNAというキャラクターのフィギュアが限定で今年発売されました。このキャラクターは僕も気に入っているのでとても嬉しいです。いくつかの違うカラーバージョンが作られると思います。

今後も機会があればフィギュアは作ると思います。

それとは別に、発表するかどうかもわからないけど粘土で作品を作っています。

実はほとんど発表していませんが立体作品もずっと作り続けています。

yosuke-ueno_16_beautiful-bizarre

Lastly, will you tell me a about your current and upcoming projects &/or shows?

Next year (in 2015), I’m going to have a solo exhibition. In the meantime, my works will be featured in several group exhibitions: In Berlin, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Japan.

I’m looking forward to see what kind of artworks I’m going to produce

2015年にロスアンゼルスで個展があります。

それまでにベルリン、ニューヨーク、ロスアンゼルス、マイアミ、日本などで幾つかのショウに参加します。

どんな作品が生まれるか僕も楽しみにしています。

I always start a new work without any detailed design. My hope is that the piece will complete itself beyond my imagination. I sometimes say that artists are parallel to scientists. Scientists have no way of knowing the result of an experiment beforehand. The same can be said about creating art. -Yosuke Ueno

yosuke ueno - efiL

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