Growing up happa (half-japanese) in a very homogenous, very safe, ticky-tacky house lined street in white-bread Orange County — I was placed into the social strata marked “other.” This seemed to be okay with me as I found preferential solace, solitarily confined in my daydreams. I remember being so bored as a kid, my only refuge was the instant teleportation into adventures born out of my imagination. I was obsessed with cartoons as any healthy child should be, but the first transformative moment I had with art started with a Lord of the Rings poster my older sister’s had hanging in their room. It could have been a contact high from the overwhelming amount of weed smoke that permeated the walls of that room and I’m sure the acid they took enhanced the “vibe.” But here I was, 4 years old, completely immersed into the world of this poster. It suddenly seemed to come alive, the images started to move and grow out of it’s two-dimensional surface. I became transfixed, falling deeper into the imagery — the emotion and excitement that pierced through me was so foreign and wonderful — I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since.
Since then, I would spend hours making drawings of my own, inventing a world that was full of excitement and adventure, I just wanted to be anywhere but “here.” Being Japanese I was exposed to the enchanting animated movies by Hayao Miyazaki. I so yearned to switch places with the character Mei in My Neighbor Totoro, that I would have gladly given up my parents to ride that catbus, just once. The aesthetic and characters in Japanese animation had a profound effect on my development as a young artist and naturally, I gravitated to the graphic, “super flat” works of Takashi Murakami.
In my teen years I discovered Tank Girl comics illustrated by Jamie Hewlett and the illustrations of Yoshitomo Nara. As a Thirteen year old with maturing disdain for life in the Suburbs, the anti-heroine of Nara’s Cosmic girl and Rebecca Bunk (Tank Girl) became my closest allies to my brooding teenage angst — me against the world — attitude. Tank Girl led me to the paintings of Phil Hale and his intelligent sarcasm and anarchistic symbolism found hidden in his work, hit me spot on.
Now, as I continue to educate myself as a painter. I have cultivated my critical eye and gravitate towards a more quiet, subtle, interaction with art. The brief chuckle gets forgotten. But paint in its own abstract material quality can evoke a more quiet mystery — the parts of painting that explain nothing but somehow draw you closer into the canvas — suddenly you realize you are staring into nothing. Careful, beautiful, soft rendering, juxtaposed with the choatic physicality of paint — representation and abstraction — gives painting an electricity that for me invokes the ‘humanness’ of life. Ooh sounds so deep doesn’t it?
Golucho, Justin Mortimer, Ruprecht Von Kaufmann, Michael Borremans, are a few I’ve added to my list of giants, Magicians in their own right for their ability to fuel my obsession with paint.