Bitter | Sweet: An Interview with Yosuke Ueno

Anyone who thinks science, philosophy, and pop surrealism do not mix definitely needs to take a look at Yosuke Ueno‘s paintings and learn more about the artist by reading our previous in-depth interview with him. This year, in anticipation of the upcoming beautiful.bizarre curated exhibition Bitter | Sweet at 19 Karen Contemporary Artspace (Gold Coast, Australia), opening 18 March 2017, we contacted him to find out about his latest works and  his future plans, as well as his perspectives on art, inspirations, and life.


Hello! How have you been? Will you update beautiful.bizarre’s readers what you’ve been doing since our last interview in 2014? Has anything changed since then? 

Like always, I’ve been painting and creating new pieces for various exhibitions. The things that have changed in my life are: now, I’m able to drink black coffee; and, I’m able to create frames for my works. Frame-making is fun. I’ve been using varnish and gold foil to create frames that suit my paintings.



For the upcoming beautiful.bizarre curated group exhibition at 19 Karen Contemporary Artspace, you were asked to create two new paintings that fit the theme of the exhibition: Bitter | Sweet. May I know how you interpreted the theme?

Yin and Yang is one of the major themes of my works; so, I interpreted “Bitter | Sweet” as yin and yang, two interconnected elements that exist in harmony. It’s a beautiful theme.



Below are sneak peeks of the paintings Yosuke Ueno created for the beautiful.bizarre curated exhibition at 19 Karen Contemporary Artspace. The exhibition opens March 18, and is on view through April 29, 2017.


As I’m looking at your recent works, I notice a shift towards darker themes. In one of your paintings, I saw the words “shiki soku zeku” written in kanji. What’s the concept behind those words?

You must be talking about “Memento Mori”, the (darker) Snow White painting. Recently, I’ve been contemplating about the time I have left in my life, and I’ve been creating pieces that relates with that theme. “Shiki soku zeku” means: no thing is tangible, and everything is in a constant flux


白雪姫をモチーフにした作品、Memento Mori のことですね。 自分の残り時間について考えている事が作品になりました。簡単にいうと色即是空とは全てのものは実体のない変わりゆくものであると言う意味があります。

Lately, many of the characters in your paintings are half human and half plants. Is there any specific thing you try to convey through those paintings?

I like to go hiking. As I walk, images of plants intertwining with living things often come up in my mind. Recently, I had some Turban Shell Sashimi. I was stunned by the beauty of the shells. I literally was too stunned to eat. I currently am working on a painting based on the shape of those shells.



You seem to base your recent works on new sources of inspiration. Would you tell us more about them?

My work is still based on the same good ideas I had when I was a 20-year-old artist. But, now, I paint them with better sense and skill.



What are your current “dream projects”? What do you want to accomplish this year?

I’m want to create vinyl figures. I’ve brainstormed a hundred of possible characters. Also, I want to created an illustrated book.



People often overthink and over-interpret things. What’s the number one misconception people have about your works?

To me, each person’s interpretation about my work is the best and most befitting interpretation that person can have.



Will you tell me one interesting fact about you most people don’t know?

I like to test various brands of paint brushes. I use both expensive brushes and five-for-a-dollar brushes from Daiso.



Art means different things for different people. May I know what art means to you?

To me art is something children can do. I do not want to turn it into something highbrow and theoretical



What is the strongest motivation that makes you to keep on painting?

You know how people who like to play video game often play till sunrise. They don’t need to push themselves to stay up till morning. Personally, I like to paint. So, I never have to push myself to keep on painting. My love of painting is a strong and unshakeable motivation that drives me to keep on painting.



Have you ever tired of painting? If so, what did you do to overcome it?

I’ve been painting ever since I was a very young child. There was a time when my parents threw my paintings away. Once, my school teacher tore my painting up for no reason whatsoever. It very sad and frustrating, but I never get tired of creating more and more paintings. Even though people don’t understand or appreciate your work right away, if you persevere, in 10 – 15 years, people are not going to have any trouble in recognizing your work.


僕は子供の頃から描いた絵を全て親に捨てられていました。学校の先生にも理由なく破り捨てられたことがあります。それはとても悔しく悲しい事でしたが、絵を描くことが嫌いになったことはありませんし、乗り越える壁というものも特に思いつきません。 その時期に周りに理解者がいなかったとしても、10年、15年くらい続けていると周りはあっさり認めてくれるものだったりします。

To you, what’s the most precious thing in life?

Time. I don’t know how much time I have left. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been driven to give

to work with full effort ever since . To think about time is to think about life. Lately, I sense that I’m able to create much better paintings than before.



What else are you working on at the moment?

Up till last week, I’ve been preparing for my upcoming solo exhibition in Rome. This week, I’ve been painting for the beautiful.bizarre curated show. I didn’t realize I only need to create two paintings for the Bitter | Sweet show. By the time I realized it, I’d finished creating a third painting for the show.














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