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Art & Life with Ibuki Kuramochi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ibuki Kuramochi.

Ibuki, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
When I was a young child, I loved most flowers. However, I was afraid of pansies .
I felt that the pansy’s black color looked like a human face, and that if I touched it the black color would stain my hand like ink.

Of course, that was a child’s imagination, but at that time I was really afraid. Now that I think about it, that imagination has a deep connection with my art. Usually, I use black ink for my paintings, and I often paint flowers. So it is very interesting and ironic to me that something that I was very afraid of as a child would become a very important part of me as an adult and as an artist.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?

I was born in Gunma, Japan, which is in the countryside and close to mountains. I often saw and felt the spirits from the beautiful nature there, like the famous Gibli animation movie “Princess Mononoke”
The first time I felt incredibly moved by art was when I was 12 years old and, I went to a temple in Nara, Japan with my family. I saw, and was deeply impressed with, Silk Road (a series of paintings by Japanese painter Ikuo Hirayama).

At that moment, I traveled The Silk Road through his paintings, and I could feel Hirayama’s powerful soul and strong spirit. At the same time, I had a big dream that I would someday become a great artist who would make powerful art like Hirayama. About three years ago, I wanted to re-live the feeling of seeing his work for the first time, so I visited Yakushiji Temple in Nara. The inside of Yakushiji Temple is famously decorated with one continuous 13 piece wall painting by Hirayama called “The Great Tang of the Western Regions”. It is 49 meters long and took him 30 years to complete and incorporates motifs of life and death, and the existence of the soul.I felt this art really draw me in, and it made me feel warm and nostalgic. I want to illicit the same feelings with my own art.

I believe that every part of nature…the ground, air, water, the sun, the moon, even hair has spirits.
This thinking is from the beliefs of Japanese Shintoism. “The spirit”has become the core of my art themes since my earliest childhood memories.

I often use the contrast of black and white colors that, to me, has a meaning of“death and life”.
For example, everybody grew up with mother’s milk. However, before giving birth, a mother’s milk was blood. The blood’s red color changes to white when a mother feeds her baby. White color has the meaning of life and the beginning. I feel strong a strong feeling of “life” from the color white. On the contrary, black has a meaning of “death” and “the end”.

Also, eroticism is one of my art themes. When I draw a line, I am conscious to put a feeling of eroticism to my paintings. Every time, I try to draw captivating lines. Eroticism is the source of life and is essential for human beings. Also, I use Japanese SUMI that is black charcoal ink. SUMI’s deep black color is very pure and I can get a strong feeling of nature when I use it in my work.

I also do performances fusing the beauty and craft of my live painting with the soul and rhythm of contemporary Japanese Butoh dance. BUTOH dance is a dance form that was created by Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno after World War II. I learned BUTOH from the Butoh Master Yoshito Ohno who is a son of Kazuo Ohno. BUTOH is a quite unique dance form. BUTOH’s thinking is“The body has everything”, and to “cherish the inside more than outside”. When I perform dancing and painting at the same time, my feeling is very special. My spirit goes to the another world, I can feel everything. Like being possessed by a spirit,
but it is not bad thing . My Butoh master Ohno told me that “BUTOH is LOVE”. To see everything by pure eyes, that is a core point of BUTOH. When I am performing in front of a crowd to music, the collaborating instruments influence my drawing and dance and allows me to feel the mood of my surroundings and make it one with the audience’s. The novel blend of movement, music and painting is my way of encapsulating the spirit of performance art. My performances are only as short as 30 minutes, so it is easy to focus all my strength into each piece. I hope that people take away the spirits from my paintings and performances.

What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
I think that every artist is inherently lonely. You see, solitude is a very important element to see and feel deep inside, to think, and to create art. However, we can also do collaborations. I often collaborate with musicians for my performances, utilizing Japanese traditional instruments like koto, shamisen and shakuhachi, and also Western guitar, bass, keyboards. It is very enjoyable to collaborate with many people of various countries and cultures…Japan, France, Taiwan, etc. For my live performances, I love to see and feel the chemistry from the collaboration with different artists.

Together we can create new and exciting art. The possibility of 1+1=10,or100,or1000, the possibilities are endless! I could learn so many things from collaborations, and I think that it is the best way to connect with other artists. Thru my art, I have experienced a lot of inspiring events around the world during my travels, and I wish to continue expressing my own unique and Japanese outlook on human souls and emotions through my work.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Please check my website &SNS

JAPAN UP! Interview page
Youtube Movies

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
1.Butoh Painting (Photo by Ibuki Kuramochi 2017)
2.Spirit of Eyes(Ink, Japanese paper, Panel 2017)
3.The White Flower(Photo by Ibuki Kuramochi 2017)
4.Vayu(Ink,Acrylic,Pencil,Panel 2015)
5.Kakizome(Acrylic,Paper 2015)
6.Body Painting-Black-(Photo by Ibuki Kuramochi 2016)
7.Portrait(Photo by 2017)

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