Artist Statement



-Artist Statement-






“Who am I?”

This is the question I have been asking myself since early childhood, when I already found it difficult to live.

For me painting a picture is an adventure transforming myself into what I am not.

I feel on various occasions that I am nurtured by the presence of others. We have been blessed with a child since last year. When I am with the child, I am aware of “myself” whom I haven’t known before. It is the moment when I am transformed through my relation with the child and a new world comes into being. It is not only a surprise but also a question posed to me.

A child was born, the fragrant olive tree bloomed in the garden, we got married, I greet somebody on the street, a goblin cat died in a dream, the bicycle broke, the wind died away—these are the stories of “others as you” around myself, in which I am always changing. In order to express and feel the ever-changing self, I continue to paint pictures.

In this process four things are important to me, which I always bear in mind. They help me to sense the solid presence of other persons and things in the world, and to carry out an adventure of transforming myself into what I am not.

① “Existential experience” (my components)
Everything that appeals to the senses in the seasons of life, including the memories that cannot be recalled, is the other that constitutes my real identity. This is the basis of my work, and I engrave it on my heart. Here is embraced everything—images spontaneously generated, dreams and visions, happenings in the consciousness of a doze, and emotions stirring in my heart.

② “Multilayer structure” (the structure of “I”)
All experiences both interior and exterior sometimes overlap, sometimes penetrate, sometimes conflict, echoing with each other and generating a chaos called “I”. I try to anchor in a picture my momentary self, which constantly sways, changes and passes, putting a different face each time.

③ “Evenly-suspended attention” (how I should be in order to be more open)
Formerly, the more I thought about the meaning and purpose of creation, the more trapped I became, which prevented me from producing anything. Now I try to keep my consciousness unprejudiced and floating evenly so that I may become free from the small self in whom I am trapped, my contour may melt, and I may be open to what I am not.

④ “Harmony” (trust in my unknown self)
Though the chaos of nature and the self appears to be without any order, I think it is a chaos in which a power is hidden, which eventually leads to harmony. When I face chaos, it afflicts me and makes me feel uneasy. But I will believe in “harmony”, and, with my consciousness floating evenly, go forward with an unbiased mind.

【the method of production to realize myself】
With “evenly-suspended attention”, I pile up on a picture randomly and in a multi-layered manner the fragments of my “personal experience” such as pictures taken, diaries, dreams, images generated spontaneously, and rubbish thrown away in our daily lives. Thus the picture arises of its own accord.

In this practice I keep on asking who I am. By continuing to change myself into what I am not, and to respond to the question with my whole being, I come to feel the solid reality of myself.

“I am you, and you are I … .”

30 April 2018 Tomoaki Tarutani