Interview with Noguchi Shimura | NBB Magazine

Posted by NBB Gallery on

 Noguchi Shimura

Last autumn we had the opportunity to visit Noguchi Shimura in his studio to talk about his everyday practice and his journey as an emerging artist in Tokyo. Continue reading to learn more about his first encounter with creating art, where he draws his inspiration from and what thought goes into creating his distinguished figures and dreamy imagery. 

Where did your first impulse to create art come from? Can you describe your artistic journey and how everything started?

My earliest memory of creating reached back when I was six years old. My older sister gave me a page of a coloring book. It was an elephant coloring picture. Even though it was a coloring picture, I didn't use colors and instead, I drew lines with a pencil. The reason why I did that was because I thought it would surprise people if I finished it without using any colors. I was a child who liked to surprise others. Some of the lines I drew went beyond the outline of the elephant. It was a small page, so it was difficult to rub off with my eraser.

Noguchi Shimura

So I tried to cover up by joining the lines that stuck out and cutting off smudges that couldn't be covered. Consequently, the elephant coloring picture became just a distorted pattern. I additionally drew a bird's head on it to make sense for what it was. I wasn’t able to show it to anyone as I believed it was a failure. To start over, I searched my memory and drew an outline of the elephant. It turned out very well and I was very surprised at myself. 

Recurring elements in your work seem to be whimsical creatures, distorted figures and objects in dream-like sceneries. Can you elaborate on some of your influences and inspirations?

I know I’m the one who painted but I often wonder about my artworks “What on earth is this?”. I ask people, “What colors do you like these days? And why?” “What did you eat yesterday and how come?”, “Is there anywhere you would like to go one day? And why?”. I imagine freely in my own way. “What kind of horns would look good on that person?” “What sort of meanings would we give that flower in the language of flowers?” “How could we turn misery into humor?” Everything I see, hear and imagine is key. I try to dissolve about half of the keys which I have collected in order to form new ones. These are miscellaneous compilations, so sometimes, may not mix each other in nature, in strength, nor in shape. I twist, fold and string them to somehow bring them all together. These are what make my work whimsical, distorted, and "what on earth." 

What materials and techniques do you like to incorporate into your work?

For painting materials, I use Holbein Water Soluble Oil Color "Duo". I feel that the smell of oil paint is not stressful, and the colors are more intense than those of acrylic paint. The first step in the process is to create a large number of idea motifs. These are the "keys" I mentioned earlier. I compose them briefly once. Then I create details and colors as I imagine in separate parts. I put them all into an iPad and make them to near perfection. The rest of the process is to copy the drawing by looking at the iPad screen. I make sure that my works contain a few incoherent adjectives.

What does a typical day in the studio look like for you? Any routines or superstitions?

I used to rent a studio, but now I work at home. I like to feel my family is around and I sometimes work for two whole days once I start drawing. I drink water, coffee, smoke cigarettes, eat sweets like chocolates, doughnuts, Baumkuchen etc., I listen to digital novels on audiobooks, TV series, films and animations on Netflix - as I can't watch them, I Google the characters' faces after the last episode.

If you had all the resources in the world, what project would you realize?

I would like to realize a co-creation project in which I could collaborate on one painting with all of my favorite artists from all over the world.

Noguchi Shimura

Noguchi Shimura

© Photos: NBB Gallery