■ Archives 1994 - 2005
━━━ Could you tell me how do you started printmaking?
- I wanted to study art and joined the printmaking department at Tama Art University. It had recently become independent from the painting department and I was one of the first entrants. I had been painting in oils since I was at junior high school, but once I began printmaking, I felt that this medium suited me far better in terms of physical chemistry. During the first year we studied all the techniques of printmaking, and copperplate print became my favourite type. It was really interesting to see the unexpected outcomes of corrosion. The method of copper print is to put ink into the engraved gaps on a copper plate and then to print it. You can clearly see the thickness of the ink on the surface of the paper
- and I loved the sense of the raised, embossed material.
━━━ What is the source of your motifs?
- Once I found my creative direction, my pictorial images have been about plants. My parents loved plants and the plants have always been around me since childhood; this is in part the reason for my present artistic tendency. I am interested in ecological systems and I am attracted by something that continues, repeatedly, despite the transformation of its form. This also relates to the titles of my series of works such as ‘Permanent Power’ and ‘Hihi (Origin of Colony)’. ‘Hihi’ in Chinese, describes the continuous, gentle fall of snow and rain. I wanted to have an image as my theme, of quiet continuity, without any break.
━━━ What do you think about size in print work?
- Originally I wanted to create large-scale works. In the late 1980s, so-called large scale prints emerged, and I think that this kind of big works suit me. The issue of the size of prints is sometimes discussed, but actually print-making artists are not usually over-concerned about size. There are of course some limitations due to the press machines and paper. That is the hard side of creation, which often regulates the print size. What is important is whether an artist chooses an appropriate size for the image of a printed work or not. Isn’t it? Sometimes I wonder if the chosen size is really necessary for the work. In my case, there are two polarised categories; the big ones aim at presenting a sense of the materials better, and the smaller ones which are to be elaborately made. Size varies from time to time according to what I would like to express and show.
━━━ Why have you used colors this time?
- When I began to use oil paint, I had an inferiority complex about my sense of colour. I did not make any coloured works for more than ten years. Even with monochrome prints, it took me ten years to master the feel of my images so that there was no room to attempt other areas. However, my chance came when I obtained a domestic fellowship from the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan in 2002 and studied at Mitsuo Kano’s for one and a half years. The result was an exhibition (at Yoseido Gallery in January 2004). I did not add colours to monochrome prints; what I needed was to call to mind new images of coloured works. So I started thinking about introducing reproductions, and that is a characteristic of printmaking. The development of colours represents images of continuity and repetition. I used petals as a motif for the works; I would like to present my own new expression in prints through showing a formal transformation using one single format. However, it is difficult to master in a short time, so i t may take three to five years for my current trials to develop sufficiently. I would also like to further explore possible ways to combine my creative characteristics and colours.
━━━ Have you overcome your inferiority complex about your sense of color?
- It was initially terrible. I had to totally change my way of thinking. It did not go as well as I expected and I repeatedly used trial and error. It felt quite awkward, as if I had changed from my dominant right hand to my left. My former creative method included a process like kneading clay; however, this way, a plate can be made instantly. It is a constant battle for victory or defeat. It is not easy to assimilate such things. When I put colours on a copperplate, they can sometimes become dull-hued because of the effects of the chemical combinations. I need to try colours one by one in order to decide which my own colour is. I have not fully developed my technique yet and have been looking for a way to combine my existing skills with the new skills for my creativity. Often people say that it is my lines that are my main characteristic; I am experimenting with the possibility of fusing lines and colours, that is, in my internal experimentation as well. I would also like to add more strings to my bow.
━━━ Why have you created objects?
- Because I love making three-dimensional works, I have wanted to make objects for quite a long time. Having seen the show entitled ‘Box Art’ (a national touring exhibition of 2002), I was really inspired to create objects. At the same time Gallery Kaede in Niigata prefecture invited me to participate in their exhibition entitled ‘Hako-mono (boxes)’ and so, for the first time, I seriously began to create objects. I wanted to create new objects that will still be shining in ten or twenty year’s time, using wood and beeswax as the materials. I think that like prints, there are two different sizes: a size for objects to be seen, and size to be held in your hands. I prefer the size that enables the holder to share the time that I have spent in holding and creating it. This is a box that can measure the flow of my time.
━━━ Anyway, was the venue of your solo exhibition really a good space?
- For an exhibition design I start by drawing detailed plans. I think it is important that the viewers can see my works in an environment that replicates the space in which they were created, thus maintaining their integrity. People tend to think that it is enough just to put prints into frames and hang them on walls; however, I wish them to be seen in the best possible space. I used to take photographs of other artists’ displays so that my vision would function like that of a photographer. Even in shops they do not treat their goods as being just “things” and recently their spaces have become more like theatres. A solo exhibition also requires an artist to have the vision to produce “oneself”; I think that you cannot achieve an excellent display without having the objectivity to consider your own work, as though it belonged to someone else. Even if you have invested a lot of passion in your work, and if the works do not fit in the space provided, it is better to not display those works there at all. Such decisions need to be made. I am very involved with directing my exhibition in my own way. I aim to share my images with the viewers.
The works of Ohya Masaaki made in between 1994-2005 are displayed here in interview format.The documents below are copied from "Art-Yuuran".(text: Hiromi Saito)