Ryuichi Ogino is a contemporary artist from Tokyo. After spending years snowboarding in Colorado and studying illustration at Oakland’s California College of the Arts, he returned to Japan and started to focus on his fine art practice. Known for his “Out of Context Mash-Up” triptychs, his work responds primarily to the hyper-consumerism in Tokyo. He has shown in Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Hawaii. Read below for the full Q&A…
A lot of your work teeters on greyscale and color work. Could you walk us through the decision making process on which piece ends up in what color scheme and if it adds to the overall impact of the piece?
Ogi: I usually choose color palette very carefully. I normally make a series of works and each series has different purpose / concept. I choose color palette accordingly. For instance, monochromatic color scheme gives subtle aesthetic and is great when I’m focusing on shapes whereas color obviously gives more vibrant aesthetic. If you could give me some images, I could explain more specifically.
You had a solo show earlier this year entitled Origin. Was this deemed as a stepping stone for you to finally begin your journey in sharing your work with the world?
Ogi: I’m curious to know why you thought that? I think I’ve always wanted to share my works with the others in order to generate dialogue.
Well, I find a lot of your art to be hard to pin down to one genre. There is abstract expressionism to some of your pieces that give off a ‘pop’ feeling. Obviously, this is my own interpretation. How do you wish your audience to receive your work?
Ogi: I think you got it. I mean I intentionally mashes up images that have different or perhaps contradicting aesthetics. I used to have very narrow taste in music, but I eventually learned that if I could just alter my approach to it, I can appreciate pretty much any genre of music. I want to convey that visually with my works. Genre is just a tool to describe something and it shouldn’t define our taste.
Going back to Origin, How did you prepare for this particular show and do you envision future expeditions to be more trying or easier?
Ogi: I think I arrived in Hawaii five days prior to my opening. I brought most of the pieces with me and I originally had a plan to create an installation of a huge diamond suspended from the ceiling. When I got there though I realized that I had to alter my plan. We were working very hard until the very last minute. I would like to keep pushing my limits so I don’t think my future exhibitions to be any easier.
You went through formal training at a University. Did you have a good experience? Did they prepare you for the industry?
Ogi: I was trained as a illustrator and I barely made it. Now I consider myself as an artist and not an illustrator. In Tokyo, I don’t feel like there is an “industry” though. I feel like we have to built one.
Your style subtracts the elements of high and low contexts. Could you elaborate on your flatness technique and why your gravitate towards it?
Ogi: I grew up in a sampling culture, and that’s reflected in merging of elements. I’m also inspired by Mash-Up music. Mash-Up and sampling are technically the same, but I’d like to say that what expected from the audience is different. In sampling, creator is not expecting the majority of audience to know where they got their samples / elements from. They often hide the source as much as possible. Whereas in mash-up, it’s quite contrary. This shift to me is very symbolic of pre and post internet. It’s about sharing information and is very fascinating shift to me. That’s what inspired me to do not really merging, but more contrasting use of different aesthetics.
Do you cultural differences of California and Japan have an influence over your work when you work in each place?
Ogi: Sure. I wouldn’t be doing something entirely different, but I have to adjust my approach. I have to use materials that are available, and I would explain my concept in different languages.
Any advice for any creative out there?
Ogi: I don’t really have an advice, but I like this quote:
“An artist is a man who digests his own subjective impressions and knows how to find a general objective meaning in them, and how to express them in a convincing form.” - Maxim Gorky
What are some of your favorite Asian films?
Ogi: I like watching movies but I don’t think I’ve watched enough to answer this. Recently I watched films by Yasujiro Ozu, Kaneto Shindo and Seijun Suzuki, and I enjoyed them a lot. I’d like to watch more classic Asian films. Any suggestions?
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