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Check out Pico Okada’s Artwork

Today we’d like to introduce you to Pico Okada.

Pico, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
When I was 10 years old I won a prize at an art competition for the Japan Animal Welfare Society that was sponsored by the Japanese Royal Family. I received an honorable certificate for my painting from Her Imperial Highness Princess Hitachi which was a huge honor. I was nervous, as you would expect from any young person being in the presence of royalty. But I was nervous also because at that moment I realized it was both my destiny and my duty to become an artist.

Since then art became the core of my life. I was born and raised in Tokyo which is a big busy city and after I graduated Musashino Art University there, I had many choices to make. What job should I take? How should I spend my time? Tokyo offered not just a variety of life paths, but also many temptations to waste away my life. I was a bit lost deciding where I should go, and perhaps more importantly what to create. At that time my father who was my mentor was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease which made him unable to communicate with us and condemned him to a slow isolated death in the hospital. It made me realize that the life you imagined can fall apart for absurd unexpected reasons completely out of your control. I started exploring underground culture like as suppressing this sadness. At that period in my life I was self-tormenting.

One day I got an opportunity to do live painting at one of the biggest club in Tokyo WOMB, painting in front of an audience. The experience was tense, filled with noise and chaos but it brought me out from the darkness somehow.

Since then I’ve been doing live painting dressed in costumes as my personal style of performance. Gradually I started exhibiting painting and moved into other areas of media such as photography, video, installation and mixed media at solo and group exhibitions.

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I studied Japanese painting at Art University which uses completely natural materials such as leaves, flowers, rocks and seashells for paints and even secretion of hare for glue. The subject of my art is always nature and animals so that it penetrated through my mind spontaneously. Recently I haven’t used Japanese painting material generally, but the essence of it is always in my work.

The themes of my work include recent news, environmental issues, psychology and my personal experience. I use animals as a metaphor often such as lion without a head in the bathroom as arrogance and infidelity.

In 2014, I held a solo exhibition at Ganka gallery in Tokyo. The theme was about radiation from Fukushima nuclear power plants which were destroyed by the tragic earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The power plants have been leaking radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean continuously since 2011. Recovery was progressing and our life was getting back to normal and media coverage of it was decreasing at that time. But the radiation fear was still there like a cancer. We were avoiding thinking and talking about it because there’s nothing any individual could do. At the reception of my exhibition some of my young girls’ friends came and started talking about the impact that the disaster had on their loved ones which surprised me. Ordinarily whenever I hung out with them the topic is just always boys, partying and things like that. So that when I saw them discussing this most taboo topic I thought yes this is why I do art and how I can have an impact upon the world.

In last couple years I’ve lived and visited LA, Amsterdam and other Europe countries. I am enjoying to experience different cultures and meet new people. It is always inspiring me to have a new angle and recognize my identity and gives me awareness and insight.

The stereotype of a starving artist scares away many potentially talented artists from pursuing art – any advice or thoughts about how to deal with the financial concerns an aspiring artist might be concerned about?
Keep creating, there is always a way.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
Please visit my website. I am updating news.

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