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Interview with TwoOne

17 JUN 2011 | Posted By: LifeloungeStaff

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Interview with TwoOne

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Japanese-born artist Twoone has a long standing fascination with the ephemeral and the fleeting. His free-flowing characters can be found in Melbourne’s long neglected pockets, in derelict alleys and abandoned buildings, or lurking behind doors. His imagery is borne of a personal visual language of texture and motif, and is as instantly recognsiable as the signature of the artist. For his latest series of work ‘Before it Fades Out’ he has departed from this style to explore a more traditional painterly aesthetic. We caught up with Twoone to talk about his new direction, and doing it all before it’s too late.

Sean Irving: How long have you been painting for?
Twoone: Since I can remember.

S: You grew up in Japan right?
T: Yeah I grew up in Japan until I was eighteen and finished high school. I moved to Melbourne to study English but I started meeting lots of interesting people, some of them were artists and I was into painting so I started hanging out with them and started making paintings on the walls and stuff, that was the beginning I guess.

S: When did you start painting graffiti originally?
T: I started towards the end of my high school. There was a massive ten kilometre wall under the train tracks in my home town in Yokohama that was all coloured in graffiti. Around that time I started skating as well, the whole skate graphic culture was influenced by graffiti and that started getting me in to it.

S: A lot of your work seems to be focussed on installation based pieces with a real emphasis on materials - what attracts you to that?
T: I guess I wasn't comfortable with the idea of starting from bare. That's why I started using wood and found objects that already had character, that was something to get me started. I remember even back in the day I was drawing on paper with stains on it, that already had a story, and my imagination got inspired from it and started drawing. That's the reason I'm drawn to that kind of material.

S: So this new body of work is quite different to the stuff that people have seen before, what made made you want to explore a new aesthetic?
T: I think I'm always trying new techniques and new materials, and this time I was really just concentrating on the painting rather than a lot of building and installation that I used to do. Because of the nature of my work I used to use a lot of found objects and wood, so I couldn't really concentrate just on painting. But for this show, I mainly did traditional painting on paper which made me play around with just the material and the texture and I think that's why naturally something different came out.

S: How did you find that process of moving toward a more traditional painterly style?
T: I learnt so much. Painting becomes another tool, it's the same as a hammer, same as brushes. I started using everything in the studio, brushes, chalk, crayon, spray paint, some linocut printing, ink and rollers and everything. I started to realise that I could make a lot more texture and depth with painting... Some of the paintings for these series are based on little objects that I've taken photos of from outside and inside the studio. It's normally just something from my life, which maybe back in the day I might have picked up and used as a material, but this time I was actually trying to use the objects as subjects for painting. Also some of them are still animal-based abstract painting that doesn't have much of a clear model or subject to start with. I don't know where they come from, I normally just put down some paint and keep going.

S: A lot of these new works seem quite personal, where are they coming from?
T: Some of them have a really clear idea, especially the subjects that I took photos of and the real life paintings. They have each got different stories, there's one main piece in my show called "Grandpa Shelved' which is a painting of a skull wearing my Grandfather's hat, he actually passed away three years ago, and that's on my shelf in my studio. It's got a dark reference in it, obviously the idea of death and all those things, but for me it's part of natural life. It's basically an everyday thing I guess. For the abstract stuff, I'm not really quite sure what that means. It's a thought that I have at that moment which I couldn't explain by words.

S: You're most well known for your animal based character work, in this series they're still present but they're a lot more deconstructed. Why did you want to take them in that direction?
T: When I start thinking about what those animals mean to paint, I'm really not sure what they mean. I start thinking that maybe what I want to paint isn't just those animals, maybe it's just a motif that leads in to it. I still can't explain it in words, that's what's coming out in this new series. It's becoming more loose and more abstract, I think it's still on the way. I'm still not really there yet.

S: Do you see yourself moving even further away from that character based style?
T: I think it's still along the same lines as my original ideas, but I probably just defining it to what I actually want to express. The really clear animal images were just the beginning, and as I've defined more somehow they've become looser in style.

S: Do you have any idea where you want to take it to next?
T: To be honest I'm not really sure yet, it's normally moving my hand that makes my brain work.

S: Because you are well known for a particular style or motif do you find that limiting at all?
T: Yeah I find that limiting, I guess that's why I try and change it all the time. I'm still twenty six and I don't think I'm grown up as a human perfectly yet, if I was limiting myself to just one style that would feel like I'm stopping at the age. I'll definitely keep changing it.

S: Obviously your still painting on the streets as well - how do you balance that with your studio work?
T: For me it's pretty much the same thing. It's like you eat bread one day, you eat rice one day, you eat noodles one day, it's not like you just need to eat one thing. I like doing different things, I like switching it up every day.

S: Do you approach a wall in a different way to a canvas?
T: I think it’s the same, if I'm trying to paint in a different style in the studio then naturally my outside works becomes a little bit different as well. So it's all the same thing to me.

S: What do you want people to take away from this show?
T: More new work, something people haven't seen from me. It's a new phase for me. I do have this fear, I don't where it comes from, but there's this fear of "I've got to create more, time is running out". I think it's a fear of not doing enough, I have this feeling that I can pull out more from myself that I haven't even seen before. And to see what I haven't seen before I just have to keep creating. I just want to see all things.

Before it Fades Out is currently showing at No Vacancy Gallery Melbourne. More at no-vacancy.com.au.

Words by Sean Irving. More at twooneelephant.com.
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