Navigating the Boundaries Between Reality, Unreality, and Our New Reality. Interview with Tadasuke Jinno
By Lauren Ryan Smith
What are you working on in the studio these days?
I just finished up a three month residency at Crosstown Arts in Memphis, Tennessee. While I was there, I started to explore the theme of penetration using various mediums. I’m particularly drawn to the tension and power that is present when one object pierces another. At first, I explored this in my paintings. Then, I created a large installation where the viewer can actually penetrate the sculpture’s walls and enter inside of it. Using a stretchy black rubber cord, I connected the two walls of my studio to create a barrier wall. The viewer can touch the rubber, play with its elasticity, and move it aside to enter the installation. The interior space is fairly narrow. Every time you take a step, the rubber cords shake and play with your vision. There is also a layer of sand and stone on the installation floor. With each movement, you feel shifting under your feet and hear a crushing sound as the ground readjusts. There’s a sense of tension and disorientation as you navigate through the piece. It gives a full sensory experience to the eyes, body, and ears. Unfortunately, the open studio program was cancelled due to COVID19, but I’m grateful I was able to stay and continue making this work in studio.
You can check out a video of this installation work here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxAcNMP6Cpk&feature=youtu.be
In your artist statement, you talk about exploring the boundaries between reality and unreality. How did you become interested in this? In what way does it take form in your artwork?
I started making art after I moved to New York City from Japan. At that point in my life, I didn't feel fully present day-to-day. Life didn't feel real to me. It felt as if I was watching a TV show or movie. New York City was so noisy yet, at the same time, my mind was quiet and empty. I became interested in this dichotomy and it brought up the significance of “reality” in my own work.
In my installations, I tend to create a clear space or boundary that the viewer can enter into or has to cross over. By entering into the installation, the viewer is able to leave behind their own sense of reality and immerse themselves in a new one. The installation acts as a gateway connecting the outer world of the real to my constructed world of the unreal. I believe the same is true in my paintings.
The formal elements of graphic design have a strong presence in your paintings. Particularly, in the work you were making when we first met during your residency at the NARS Foundation in Brooklyn. What made you switch from graphic design to fine art? How do you feel your experience as a graphic designer influenced your art practice today?
There were definitely strong formal elements of graphic design present in my early work. But, when I attended the NARS Foundation Artist Residency, I wanted to break out of that. I first switched from graphic design to fine art when I took classes at the Art Students League in New York City. I was always interested in art, but I hadn't started actually making fine art until after I left Japan. As I studied painting at The Art Students League, I fell in love with it! It was freeing to know that all the decisions in art were a matter of my own choice; the theme, materials, color, and shape. After working in graphic design, which had a variety of limitations depending on the assignment, making art was so attractive.
Right now, I am consciously eliminating the formal and visual elements of graphic design from my work. However, I think the basic theoretical aspects will always stay with me. To me, graphic design is the use of text, photographs, abstract and figurative shapes, and color to convey information and direct messages. Every element has a clear reason, to effectively maximize the appeal or desired message to the viewer.
With my art, I don't have a specific audience. There is no client I am representing and no direct message or information to convey. It all comes from within me. I’m the one the work has to be true to. I still make sure each element in my work has a clear reason for its presence. Maybe that's where there is common ground. I do approach the work objectively and maintain an awareness of the relationship between the viewer and the work.
You frequently create site specific installations while attending art residencies. What is it about the space that you are reacting to or engaging with? Or, is the installation planned ahead of time?
Yes, I have created several site-specific works. I generally make a plan for the installation before I get to the residency. But, I also reconstruct the plan after I actually see the space. It may vary depending on the size of the space and the amount of light. However, I’m more influenced by the atmosphere of the new city than I am by the space itself. I tend to reflect on the feeling of the space and compare it with the installation I had planned.
Very interesting. How did living in a rural environment surrounded by nature affect the installation you made during your residency at ChaNorth? Did the environment impact your concepts in any way?
Being at ChaNorth was the first time I had ever lived in the countryside, even in Japan. Since the residency was only one month long, I had made a plan for my studio work ahead of time and prepared my materials in advance. However, while working in the Sunroom Studio, which is surrounded by windows looking out onto fields and trees, I was astonished by the awesomeness of nature. Nature exuded this silent power that felt completely beyond anyone’s control. I was particularly drawn to the deep darkness of the night. Inspired by that all-consuming darkness, I changed the color scheme I was working with to all black. Positioning the stark blackness of my installation against the contrasting background of trees in nature was really powerful.
I was also influenced by the other resident artists. It was very inspiring to see the seriousness of their approach to art and engaging in the art world. Also, thanks to the support of the residency Director and staff, I was able to concentrate on making my work and really benefiting from the visiting artist and curator studio visits. I am truly grateful for the entire experience.
Tadasuke Jinno is a New York-based visual artist from Japan whose practice includes painting, sculpture, and installation with various materials. He came to NY in 2010, and then he went to the Art Students League of NY to study painting. He had a solo exhibition at Tazza gallery, Chelsea in 2012 and 2013. He was an artist-in-residence in 2014 at NARS Foundation in Brooklyn, in 2017 at GlogauAIR in Berlin, Germany, and Zaratan AIR in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2019 at ChaNorth Artist International Artists-in-Residency Program in New York and in 2020 at Crosstown Arts residency in Memphis TN. His work has been selected for the permanent collection of The Art Students League of NY.
My works are like an entrance or exit across the border between reality and unreality. The works cause viewers to experience visual illusion, bodily sensation or new perception with colors, shapes, materials and composition. What is common to all works is "border." I believe that experiencing visual illusion, bodily sensation or new perception through my works will open your entrance or exit connecting the reality and unreality, by the feeling that you have never had before. I think that my work should be the boundary between reality and unreality. It is expressed not only in terms of effect, but also in color, shape, arrangement and so on.
Published May 19th, 2020
Lauren Ryan Smith - is a Hudson Valley based artist who creates clay and rope sculptures along with durational drawings. Smith participated as a resident artist at ChaNorth in 2015 and later returned as the Program Coordinator in 2016.