|Yusuke Asai. " Yamatane ".
Rice University Art Gallery has commissioned Japanese artist Yusuke Asai to create a new installation
entitled " yamantane. "
Asai paints with different types of mud, dust, soil, and other natural materials
he finds locally. In his immersive murals inspired by Indian folk painting, simple geometric shapes
form dense forests full of imaginary animals and people appearing in lush patterns crawling across
walls and ceilings.
For his first exhibition in the United States, Yusuke Asai will transform Houston's
swampy soil found in its bayous and surrounding areas into a stylized, fantastical landscape.
Yusuke Asai :
My name is Yusuke Asai. I live in Kumamoto, Japan, and I am a painter. I studied ceramics
in high school, but when I found it too expensive to go to university I decided to teach myself.
I learned by going to the zoo and to museums, by studying the folk art and tribal art of many cultures,
and by observing how people create things.
I do not decide on a story or meaning before I start painting. Imagery of figures and creatures comes
to me in the moment. Fox, bird, cat, and sunshine - everything has a role; parts disappear and
something is added.
The world accepts it and keeps changing. I begin each work thinking of the countless small things that come together to make a larger world.
I choose to use the earth as a medium because I can find dirt anywhere in the world and do
not need special materials. Dirt is by nature very different than materials sold in art
Seeds grow in it and it is home to many insects and microorganisms. It is a “living” medium.
The collection process and digging in the soil is so much fun, and they strengthen my feeling of
connection to a place. Yamatane (mountain seed) is made only of dirt from Texas, primarily Houston,
and because time was short, Rice students, volunteers, and the gallery staff collected dirt color
samples before my arrival.
There are so many kinds of soil in Houston and Texas. They include a
wide range of reds and yellows and even a rare shade of green. Initially I had hoped for 10 different
shades, and ended up with 27 : the widest spectrum of colors representing a specific place that I have ever used.
I accepted the ephemeral nature of dirt as a medium from the moment I started painting with it.
Once dry, paint cannot be wiped away, but with the addition of water dirt can be removed
from a surface. I have been doing this type of earth painting since 2008 and most of these
works have already disappeared! There is a desire for artwork to be permanent, but to try
and keep it forever would mean that my painting would become unnatural.
When I erase the painting it is sad, but within the context of the natural world, everything is temporary.
The Artist :
Born 1981 in Tokyo, Japan, Yusuke Asai began his artistic career by filling the margins of his
textbooks with drawings. Graduating from Kamiyabe High School, Kanagawa in 1999 with a
concentration in ceramics, he chose to forego college and instead to continue making art on his own.
Having grown up in an urban setting and with little access to nature, Asai began to create his own
version of the natural world, using tape to create drawings of plants that he called masking plants and
experimenting with natural materials.
In 2008, he turned to the earth itself - dirt - and since then has
painted his mud murals throughout Japan. He has had solo exhibitions at the Aomori Contemporary
Art Centre(2012) and Art Center Ongoing, Tokyo (2011), and his work has been represented at
the Setouchi Triennale 2013, Rokko Meets Art 2012, and the Aichi Triennale 2010.
Yusuke Asai lives in Japan’s Kumamoto Prefecture and maintains a studio in Tokyo.
Gallery : Artist Website