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Decoration Armament: Kazuki Takamatsu @ Corey Helford Gallery

beautifulbizarre_issue013_print & digital

Kazuki Takamatsu is an artist who hardly needs any introduction. His graceful paintings – in his instantly recognizable style – have been seen in numerous art exhibitions around the world, and have been featured in uncountable art publications, art blogs, and social media (including in beautiful.bizarre issue 004 and online). Since we are only a few clicks away from his biographical information, I decided to interview him about his near death experience during the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, his personal point of view about art and beauty, his unusual sources of inspiration, and his workflow. The original interview is conducted in Japanese; and, for the sake of readability, I decided to employ sense-for-sense instead of word-by-word translation method.

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Kazuki Takamatsu: Decoration Armament ????? ?

Exhibition Dates:
April 23 – May 21, 2016

Corey Helford Gallery

571 S Anderson St (Enter on Willow St)
Los Angeles, CA 90033
(310) 287-2340
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 12 noon to 6pm

An Exclusive Interview with Kazuki Takamatsu - via beautiful.bizarre(Above) “What Do I Get Next?” – Acrylic, acrylic gouache, medium, chalk, giclee on tarpaulin, 39.37″ x 31.6″

Will you tell me the concept of this current exhibition?

I always love people who “decorate” themselves with make-up, tattoo, stylish clothing, and physical training. I find them more graceful, stronger, more beautiful, and more confident than people who don’t make the effort to improve their appearance. May be they are beautifying themselves to cloak their inferiority complex; but, to me it’s more than that. I think their efforts are the manifestations of their thoughts and experience, as well as the expressions of their wishes and their affections towards their significant others.

Etymologically, the word kesh? (make up) means a protection against evil, a symbol of bravery, and something that can increase one’s mental toughness which – in turn – increases one’s combat strength. So, in a way, make up is an armament people use to survive in the modern society – through effort and research – to obtain beauty, strength, and uniqueness.

?NB: Please note that none of my works refers to any religious belief or political group. The shapes that might remind some people to certain symbols and coat of arms are nothing more than design elements.

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An Exclusive Interview with Kazuki Takamatsu - via beautiful.bizarre(Above) “I Take My Own Machine & Live My Life Without Obstruction From Anybody” – Acrylic, acrylic gouache, medium, chalk, giclee on tarpaulin, 102″ x 76.38″

The titles of your works are always so intriguing. How did you come up with them?

They stem from the words young people’s write on online bulletin boards and Twitter; especially, the pessimistic young people who harbor negative point-of-views about the world. I keep their words in mind as I create my works. So, in a way, my paintings are the visual manifestations of their negative comments.

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An Exclusive Interview with Kazuki Takamatsu - via beautiful.bizarre(Above) “Please Come In!” – Acrylic, acrylic gouache, medium, chalk, giclee on tarpaulin, 39.37″ x 39.37″

Unlike your previous series of work, this series portrays several grown up and voluptuous characters as well. Is there any reason or visual symbolism behind this change?

During my previous exhibition at CHG, I met people whose styles are perceived negatively in Japan, but considered unique and wonderful in the U.S. (e.g. In Japan, tattoo is considered a stigma. Most gyms, public pools, hot springs, and other resort areas in Japan have “No Tattoos Allowed” signs at their premises).

I find these people – their style and their confidence – inspiring. As a result, the innocent girls in my paintings also grow, becoming more self-aware, and transform themselves into mature women.

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???? ? ??????? - via beautiful.bizarre(Above) “I Take In The Decoration” – Acrylic, acrylic gouache, medium, chalk, giclee on tarpaulin, 23.86″ x 28.62″

Knowing that you live in the Tohoku (North East) Region of Japan, we deduced that these ocean waves symbolize the devastation caused by the 2011 Tohoku earthquakes and tsunami . . . Were you there when it happened? If you don’t mind me asking, how did it affect you both as an artist and as a person?

I was at home – in Sendai, Miyazaki Prefecture (in Tohoku) – during the earthquake. At that time, I thought I was going to die. But, I survived. Since then, I live my life to the fullest.

When I thought I was about to die, my mind was filled with regrets. There are many things I want to do before I die. But at that time, I thought I would no longer have the chance to do them. So, since then, I decided to do every single thing on my bucket list.

After the earthquake, two months went by before the public utilities (water, gas, and electricity) were fixed. It makes me feel grateful for the power of modern conveniences.

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???? ? ??????? - via beautiful.bizarre(Above) “Am I Rewarded According To Public Opinion? However, I Carry Through My Justice” – Acrylic, acrylic gouache, medium, chalk, giclee on tarpaulin, 31.6″ x 39.37″

I noticed that some of the characters you paint are human, and the rest of them are ball-jointed dolls. In one of your works, “Am I Rewarded According To Public Opinion? However, I Carry Through My Justice“, the girls and the doll co-exist in one same painting. Is there any reason behind it, or am I over-analyzing your stunningly beautiful work?

Unlike dolls, human beings are self-aware. The dolls in my paintings symbolize the children who – like dolls – close their hearts and minds, and stop expressing anything.

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???? ? ??????? // An Exclusive Interview with Kazuki Takamatsu - via beautiful.bizarre

(Above) “Take A Rest” – Acrylic, acrylic gouache, medium, chalk, giclee on tarpaulin, 28.62″ x 28.62″

Out of curiosity, how does your early works look like? (The ones you used to paint before you came up with your current signature style)

In the beginning, I experimented with classical techniques to create realistic paintings. I also tried my hand at creating abstract paintings and conceptual installations. Through those experiments, I figured out the kind of artwork I want to create.

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???? ? ??????? // An Exclusive Interview with Kazuki Takamatsu - via beautiful.bizarre(Above) “Symbiosis” – Acrylic, acrylic gouache, medium, chalk, giclee on tarpaulin, 76.38″ x 63.78″

Personally, what does art mean to you?

There are many negative (or dark) themed artworks in the art scene. But, I want to portray the positive side of humanity through my art.

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What’s your typical day like? Do you have any specific working ritual?

I mix my work with pleasure. I browse the internet, watch anime, talk to my friends (between the age of 10 and 20) on the phone, and hang out with them. Through play, I come up with concepts for my paintings.

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???? ? ??????? - via beautiful.bizarre(Above) “Blooming” – Acrylic, acrylic gouache, medium, chalk, giclee on tarpaulin, 20.87″ x 17.9″

The last time I interviewed you at Corey Helford Gallery, you mentioned you came up with your current painting style when you were experimenting with acrylic sheets. How the acrylic sheets become more opaque as you layer more and more sheets on top of the others . . . and that your current painting style is the result of your attempt in emulating the effect. Is that how you paint your works as well? Layer upon translucent layer? How long does it take you to complete one painting?

I used to use acrylic sheets; but, now, I use computer graphic software to generate my preliminary images and ask a printing company to print the images on tarpaulin. I, then, apply acrylic paint on top of the printed images.

In regards to the amount of time I need to complete a painting, depending on the size and the theme of the painting, it can range between 5 days to 2-3 months.

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An Exclusive Interview with Kazuki Takamatsu - via beautiful.bizarre

(Above) “See You Later!” – Acrylic, acrylic gouache, medium, chalk, giclee on tarpaulin, 51.3″ x 38.19″

An Exclusive Interview with Kazuki Takamatsu - via beautiful.bizarre(Above) “See You Later” – Acrylic, acrylic gouache, medium, chalk, giclee on tarpaulin, 51.3″ x 38.19″

An Exclusive Interview with Kazuki Takamatsu - via beautiful.bizarre(Above) “Protected By The Decoration” – Acrylic, acrylic gouache, medium, chalk, giclee on tarpaulin, 63.78″ x 51.18″

???? ? ??????? // An Exclusive Interview with Kazuki Takamatsu - via beautiful.bizarre(Above) “Cuddle Close Together” – Aacrylic, acrylic gouache, medium, chalk, giclee on tarpaulin, 64″ X 64

kazuki_takamatsu_beautifulbizarre_012(Above) Actor Jessika Van, artist Kazuki Takamatsu, and Actor Lamorne Morris. © Sam Graham.

kazuki_takamatsu_beautifulbizarre_015(Above) CHG Opening Night Guests. © Sam Graham.

kazuki_takamatsu_beautifulbizarre_013(Above) CHG Owner Jan Corey Helford with guest. © Sam Graham.

kazuki_takamatsu_beautifulbizarre_011(Above) Artists Hirabayashi Takahiro, Camilla d’Errico and Kazuki Takamatsu. © Eric Minh Swenson.

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About Author

♥ Pop Surrealism ♥ Surreal Photography ♥ Coffee ♥ More Coffee ☆☆☆ Liaises with artists and art galleries ♦ Interviews and writes articles for BB's website ♦ Proofreads the print issues of the magazine ♦ And, occasionally, acts as an exhibition reporter and photographer for BB ☆☆☆ Innovator ♣ Mixed-Media Artist ♣ Photographer ♣ Demi-Couture Designer ♣ Writer ♣ Industrial Buyer

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