Kyoko Imazu is a friend of mine, I know her first from my year at RMIT studying printmaking, but mostly from working together at the open studios in the Australian Print Workshop. She lives in Melbourne but is originally from Japan. I love her work and want to show everyone else too!
I have chosen a number of images of her work from her blog and asked her to say a little bit about each one.
"This is a doodle I did when I was in Japan this year. I got ideas when I was reading a comic that I used to love when I was a child. It's got a lot of supernatural beings in it and I wanted to draw something that has a sense of those supernatural beings.Those beings are called Yokai - they are kind of like monsters but some of them are treated like gods too. I put my usual bunny and Jizou, it's a stone statue you can see anywhere like roadsides or cemetery in Japan. I think I felt really nostalgic about my childhood."
"This is one of Japanese Yokai as well, called Jinmenju (Human-face tree). First drawn by this guy called Toriyama Seiken in about 1870. The fruits are human heads and they are always laughing or smiling and if they laugh too much they fall from the tree. It's a legend and this tree is supposed to grow in remote mountain valleys in China.
I want to turn this into a print so I'm thinking about how I should do it at the moment."
"I wanted to draw something from my collection of minerals and fossils. I was looking at a calcite (see the picture second from top from the link) and thought I could actually imagine this to be a miniature island. I wanted it to look sort of like an illustration or ex libris from an old book like Gulliver's Travel so I used wood engraving as a medium. Also I needed to practise the engraving so I was a bit desperate to find an image for woodblock!"
"Rather than going for a detailed rabbit, I wanted this to be a bit more ambiguous. The rabbit's got a claw-like hand but I wanted it to be both familiar/not-familiar and not easily recognisable so I decided to black it out like a shadow."
"This is an invasion of Telebunnies! I used to love teletubbies, in probably pre-high school time. When I look at them now, they are kind of scary and weird with the funny voice and screens in the tummy.... (I think it's like Wiggles in Australia, I don't understand why kids love those old men) So I decided to make a bunny version of teletubbies but more of them so it's like they are going to come and get us with the crazy TV in the stomach to communicate with each other.
I wanted it to look like a doodle so I did sugar-lift. This print is quite small as I was experimenting with the medium so I think I will do them again in a much larger plate."
"I got the image when I was doodling again. I had a Edvard Munch's The Kiss in my head when I made a sugar-lift version of this doodle. In his painting, faces of man and woman are melting in to one another. I think I didn't want to make a parody but kind of pay tribute of his work about life, melancholy and death! Someone at APW said it looks like Michael Leunig's though..."
"This is a work called 'What the Mouse Must Know' and I made it when I was in uni. This school project was about what is real and not real, what defines 'real'. My work has always been about a constructed nature and a question of what is nature, so I decided to use a mix of my own project and school project together. I wanted to make a landscape with lots of animals and plants in it but they are mixed with images from fairy tales and drawings from a colonial time. I put those animals/plants/stories/historical drawings togetherso borderline of all becomes blurry. And because it's all made of paper it can add the sense of being constructed/man-made and also a fragility to it. I painted the back of each paper strip in light red colour so the colour would reflect on the one behind. "
"I think I will paste a text from a gallery proposal I made last year about this image. Although it sounds really stiff, it can summarise better.
"Kyoko Imazu examines artificial and cultural constructions of nature using the motif of the rabbit. The significance of the rabbit in the context of Australia and in children’s books and films around the world is vastly different. It is viewed both as a pest and a symbol of cuteness. Through distorting and manipulating its physical structure the work challenges conventional representations of this creature in a cross-cultural investigation. Using copper plate engravings and referencing eighteenth century natural illustration the pieces evoke an imagined evolution of this iconic animal."
"This is a doodle from which I got the ideas for Telebunnies (5) and The Kiss (6). I can't really explain how I got these images or why, because I drew them when I was on the tram or on the phone at work. Lots of animals are working or playing like humans. Sometimes humans trying to be animals just like a girl in a picture with rabbit mask.
I'm always thinking about ways to incorporate my doodles into prints but haven't quite figure out how."
"Bob the Hare! I felt a little bit rude about making so many hybrid or anthropomorphic animals in the past ( I still do!). Rather than playing with the rabbit's physical form e.g. hybrid, I wanted to make him as he is, not against his nature, so hopefully he keeps the sense of awe that we used to have to animals. Because of our desire to collect, research, label and understand the nature, nothing is a mystery to us. It's not an unknown anymore and we don't feel scared by it so we do whatever we want with it. I thought this wanting-to-know-everything-around-us resulted in human's dominion over nature. And I think having no respect towards nature is one of the cause of all ecological concerns. By drawing animals as they are in nature, I thought I could pay more respect to the animal."
"This is a watercolour of a tree that I found on the internet. It made a list for world strange tree.
I just couldn't resist drawing it as it was really beautiful! It wasn't raining in the photo but it looks like raining on the paper."
Thank you so much to you Kyoko for taking time to talk about your work. You can view more of Kyokos work on her blog www.rachelscabinet.blogspot.com.