Interview: Ryoichi Fujisaki
An altered artistic state
Jul 20, 2016
Interviewed by Yoshiko Ikoma on October 2nd, 2015.
Translation Kana Kawanishi (Art Translators Collective)
Ryoichi Fujisaki is an artist who cannot be categorized simply as a photographer, painter or sculptor. His works are never confined to one particular medium of expression. In summer 2015, a group exhibition entitled contact was held at Kana Kawanishi Gallery, allowing the participating artists to freely explore the essential nature of the medium in an exhibition that pushed the boundaries of photography. During this exhibition a talk was held in which Fujisaki spoke of his photography, sculpture and performance works, approaching the core of his overall artistic expression.
“I make sure my photographs are taken before my thoughts are articulated into words.”
- You are showing both your photography and sculpture in this exhibition. Could you first introduce your series Colored Oil?
- I had always wanted to capture an image which dramatically elevates a visual experience to a different level. About ten years ago, I was working on a series capturing the interesting shapes caused by mixing oil and water. I’d put oil into a small white porcelain plate and then add bokuju (Indian ink). I stirred them together and then took photographs from one centimetre away. Bojuku contains many colours, and its molecules are tiny and fine.
- The colours are quite psychedelic. My first impression was that these images look like space.
- Photographer Kenshu Shintsubo said that good photographs could be taken when the shutter is pressed before thoughts are formed, such as “this element should be here.” I totally agree with him, and I make sure my photographs are taken before my thoughts are articulated into words.
- That’s interesting—before art becomes controlled by your consciousness. Would this mean you are in the state of unconsciousness?
- I wouldn’t call it unconsciousness, because images can appear instead of words in a conscious state. I’d say another kind of consciousness is strengthened when I am working on my art. For example, my sculpture work is made by misting gypsum onto an extremely thin base. An artwork made through such a continuous process has no essential completion, and its production can always continue much further or be stopped much earlier.
- Plants are always positively beautiful when they are in the process of growth, and was interested in finding a way to express such beauty through art. I tried to make the process of creating this work to be an a form of expression in itself by presenting the naturally layered gypsum as it is.
- This work has a beauty and a fragility that makes you wonder “how is it standing?”
- I do hope the viewer feels a sense of fragility and strangeness. I hung a wire from the ceiling of my studio at a height of four metres and then fixed the bottom to the floor. I then continuously kept misting gypsum onto it. The wire seemed as if it would disappear and would continue eternally when looking up. I continue this blowing and layering process until a sculpture naturally appears in this space.
- After the gypsum has layered to a certain extent I pour in blue bokuju. When more gypsum becomes layered on top of the bokuju, the blue colour gradually penetrates and appears on the surface from the inside. When the dyeing process appears in a work with a layered thickness like this one, I believe the viewer can visually sense time and space and allow their sensibility to expand into a state of meditation.
“Some specific feature of myself could be found in the act of destruction itself.”
- Although it does not feature in this exhibition, can you tell us about your video work Crash Addict?
- After graduating from university and working in various professions such as a carpenter, painter, and a housebreaker, I had always been interested in finding the uniqueness in myself—not in my techniques, but in how I come up with basic constructions. One day, there were several useless items at my workplace at that time. I needed to make them smaller in order to dispose of them in the garbage container, however I had no time as there were many other things I had to do. I began crushing them in a hurry, then realized many of my colleagues were looking at me and laughing. They said it was interesting, as I was crushing these objects in the most minimalist way.
- The act of “crashing” has been thoroughly explored in the 1960s and 70s, so never thought it could become an artwork. However, Crush Addict was shown for the first time on the occasion of the group exhibition produced by Kohei Nawa in Hotel Anteroom Kyoto in 2014. Many people had told me that they wanted to see me performing the destruction of these objects. I thought that some specific feature of myself could be found in the act of destruction itself, so I thought the act could be a part of the work.
- The act of destruction is general a purely functional one, however “crushing” itself has become art in this work. There is a sense that you could destroy these objects even further when watching this performance—where do you decide to stop?
- I stop when the parts which could easily break have been broken. There is no revengeful obsession at play. I listen to the sound and judge how the objects can crush in a pleasing way.
- Were there any people who reacted negatively towards this work?
- There were some who couldn’t understand why this could be an artwork.
- How did you answer that question?
- When you only listen to the sound of Crash Addict, it actually seems as though I am creating something. When I began the process of destruction, the sound attracted people in a positive way. In that way a sense of communication was established, which I believe can be called a form of expression.
- Yoshiko Ikoma
- Yoshiko Ikoma is a journalist, art producer, a member of the advisory board of the Miyake Issey Foundation, a Committee member of the Industrial Structure Council, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and Art Project Supervisor of Eye of Gyre. Ikoma actively researches and represents various diverse fields including art, traditional crafts, eco-life and social contribution. She is also the Director of the traditional craft development programme, Future Tradition WAO.
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