Projecting the Intricate Depths of the Human Psyche | LICACO Interview
The Whitestone Ginza New Gallery is holding a group exhibition entitled "Dimensions II" featuring the works of six gifted young artists, as a project to nurture the future of contemporary art. Its goal is to discover new talent and create opportunities for their presentation. And by exhibiting the works of several artists in the same space, it aims to bring new perspectives for both the viewers and the artists themselves.
For this exhibition, we conducted interviews with the six participating artists in order to reveal their inner worlds. We asked them the same set of questions to find out how they developed their current artistic expressions, and unravel the relationship between art and modern society as depicted in their artworks.
Expressing "the Affection in the Depths of our Hearts" through Art, the Greatest Entertainment of Humanity
LICACO "There Used to Be Such a Flower No.2" (2023, 97.0×162.0cm, oil on canvas)
1. What inspired your journey as an artist, and what continues to fuel your creative passion?
ー When I was a child, my mother used to take me to art museums, cinemas, and Kabuki theaters, letting me experience various kinds of arts and culture. I also simply liked drawing pictures, and I was very envious of artists who could captivate people with their artistic expressions. That yearning made me choose the path of an artist.
As I've chased my dream of becoming an artist, I've crafted numerous paintings and shared them with people. Through these moments, I began to observe the impact my artworks had on viewers. I recognized that I was gradually fulfilling my long-held aspiration of becoming an artist. It's this ongoing pursuit of my dream that fuels my continuous creation of art.
2. What do you think are the characteristics that define your artworks?
ー My artworks predominantly feature children, and the central theme revolves around "the deep-seated affection within human beings." While the simplicity of emotions such as joy, sadness, and anger in living beings is precious, I aim for my viewers to experience affection when looking at the children in my paintings, even if they might evoke peculiar or unsettling emotions. Children are inherently pure and pristine, yet when their intricate emotions are unveiled, they touch upon something that resides deep within every human being.
LICACO "There Used to Be Such a Flower No.1" (2023, 72.7 × 53.0 cm, oil on canvas)
3. Your artwork entitled "There Used to Be Such a Flower No.1" is a key visual of the exhibition. What kind of work is it?
ー For this exhibition, I am presenting a series of paintings under the theme of "There Used to Be Such a Flower". The key visual "There Used to Be Such a Flower No.1" is the first of the series, and is an oil painting that uses hydrangeas as a motif. I conceived the idea for it after seeing hydrangeas blooming along the road at the end of the rainy season.
At the time, I saw older flowers that probably used to bloom more vibrantly, and smaller, more delicate flowers blooming behind them. It made me feel the fortitude of life under the rain. Through this painting, I hope that the viewers get to feel the definite warmth within its calm atmosphere.
4. Are there any artists or artworks that influenced you? What do you like about them?
ー The artists who have influenced me are too many to count, but the genre that has influenced me the most is film. I started on the path of art because I admired the artists who could captivate people with their expressions. There are countless films that have captivated me, but I rarely get that lingering feeling you get in your stomach after watching a great movie. You might think, "So why didn't you become a filmmaker?". It is because one of my dreams is to give people the precious experience of feeling overwhelmed through my paintings.
Group Exhibition of Gifted Artists: Dimensions II
5. What does "art" mean to you?
ー I believe that art is the greatest entertainment of human beings. When I say that art is entertainment, you might imagine rich folks playing materialistic games, but I think that entertainment is one of the joys of living.
Art is not just about artworks. The emotions we feel since our birth, the various affairs lurking in our daily lives, the beautifully organized natural world – I feel that all of these are forms of entertainment that bring joy to our hearts. This entertainment can also be painting, sculpting, films, or even theater.
6. What are your expectations from this group exhibition?
ー I feel privileged to have been given a precious opportunity to take part in this group exhibition. Up until now, I have only presented my works in solo exhibitions, exhibitions in my university, and group exhibitions where I chose the members myself. Through this group exhibition, I want to experience a world that I have not seen before, and I also hope to give people an experience that deeply touches their hearts.
7. What are your plans for the future?
ー I have been creating artworks under the theme of "human affection" based on the emotions inside of me and the things I experience. From here on, I plan to further broaden my view of this theme by picking it up from the experiences of others or the events that occur in society and the whole world. For this, I want to live a life that goes beyond Japan's borders, experiencing the cultures of other countries and interacting with various people.
LICACO "There Used to Be Such a Flower No.3" (2023, 65.2 × 53.0 cm, oil on canvas)
Created with a simple ambience, LICACO's artworks feature children with aged faces in unnatural poses, and titles with implicit meanings. Expressing human nature in art is not an easy task, but she does it without shying away from a sense of eccentricity or discomfort. What lies at the root of her expression is a grand celebration of humanity.
The "Group Exhibition of Gifted Artists: Dimensions II" will run until October 21, 2023. If you can't make it in person, don't worry! You can explore the exhibition anytime online through the Whitestone Gallery Online Store.
Born in Nagaoka, Niigata prefecture in 2000, LICACO graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts, Faculty of Fine Arts, with a major in Oil Painting in 2023. While still in university, LICACO was awarded the ‘Keiichiro Kume Prize”, which was targeted at high achievers in both of the oil painting and sculpture courses. In 2021, her first solo exhibition was held in her hometown, Nagaoka. ‘Affection for human beings, who have no choice but to live bearing complexity and vagueness’ is raised as the theme of her creation, LICACO represents it though the mediums like oil painting and copperplate engraving. Feeling at the bottom of the heart or accumulation of memories that is fostered unconsciously－the artist aspires to invoke its source. Her exquisite style expressing weirdness, quietness, and nostalgia at the same time including its prosaic and unfinished titles synchronizes the viewer’s sensation with her art.