Artist Q&A with Kaoruko

Kaoruko’s painting process pays homage to both traditional and contemporary Japanese artistic methodologies by using water-based paint (acrylic), gold leaf, sumi-e (traditional calligraphy techniques), ukiyo-e (traditional Japanese woodblock prints) and silkscreened kimono patterns on canvas. By juxtaposing all these similar yet separate elements, Kaoruko weaves together narratives of the young and old, the bourgeoning and bygone to deliver poignant paintings that straddle cultural, sexual and geographic beliefs and stereotypes of feminine identity at a crucial time that is rewriting the narrative on what it is to be female both here and abroad.

“Teddy Bear”, acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 60 x 54 in | 152 x 137 cm, 2018

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

Gustav Klimt

How did you become a professional artist?

I was a Japanese pop singer when I was a teenager. Based on my experience of playing the “kawaii (pretty/cute)” character in Japan, I still keep expressing the beauty of women in the art world.

What are the influences and inspirations in your work?

I am currently inspired by the unique Japanese traditional crafts such as “Washi”, traditional Japanese paper, “Aizome”, Japanese indigo dye, and “Arita-yaki”, Japanese porcelain.

How is your work different than everything else out there?

I incorporate the Japanese culture, like Japanese paintings and manga with my works. I use a method of drawing in 2D with a “Mensoufude”, fine pointed brushes and using a 200-year-old kimono pattern into a silk screen to make it look like a collage.

When is a piece finished for you?

When I start drawing my work, my inspiration talks to me. Coincidence calls for the chance. Various colors and ideas are born by that voice. When the conversation stops, I finish the work.

Kaoruko, photo by Hisao Taya.

What’s different about your current body of work?

After experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, I began to think about sustainability. I think this experience will have a big impact and influence on my art world in the future

Tell us about a few of your career highlights or moments that have greatly affected your career?

My career highlight is that I was on the cover of New American Painting.

What’s coming up for you?

I am currently in a group exhibition at Robert Berry Gallery along with David Carbone, Bobbie Moline-Kramer, and Terry Rodgers curated by Robert Curcio.

 What advice would you give to an artist just starting out today?

If I can give some advice to new artists, I would tell them that it is important to face their art with their originality and pure feelings, and keep them all the time. The pure and faithful feelings move people’s hearts through the art.  Also, the encounters and actions that arise from them will surely change the future.

Who are some of your favorite under appreciated artists that you don’t think get enough attention?

Kiki Smith 

“Untitled”, acrylic, silver and gold leaf, 50 x 46 in | 127 x 117 cm, 2019

To learn more about Kaoruko and her work, please visit RobertBerryGallery.com.