HIMEKA MURAI

CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?

HM: I make 3-dimensional, textural and abstract paintings using a technique I have developed with hot glue and paper mache. Many of these constructed abstract forms relate to relief sculpture. I use the word, “sculptural painting” when I explain my work to people, but I don’t really feel like I am “painting” when I make the work. It feels much more like I am drawing lines with my glue gun and sculpting forms on canvas with materials. Maybe a better word for it is “sculptural drawing” or “construction.”

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

HM: I was very into hair and spider webs when I first started making paintings. So I began my practice by making lots of hairy texture, driven by that obsession with stringy objects – using hot glue. I get inspiration from other artists as well, and I am especially influenced by Kudo Tetsumi and Eva Hesse. I saw Kudo’s retrospective show in Tokyo when I was in high school, and that was shocking. It imprinted on me. I felt I could spiritually connect to this artist, seizing something really intimate and honest from his work. 

HM: Eva Hesse was an honest, passionate and special artist as well. From reading interviews she did I feel that her work and herself were so close, that she had a great deal of authenticity. Come to think of it, I love both artists’ authenticity and I am seeking to realize the same feeling in my work, too. 

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?

HM: I try not to think too much. I think I should rather be making my hands dirty before thinking too much. I start making things when I have a broad idea of them, and sometimes I get spontaneous outcomes, which I love. Spontaneity makes me find something new and moves me forward. And then I develop the ideas or styles from there to make a new body of work.

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?

HM: I don’t like pushing people on what to take or what they should see in my work. My work consists of abstract forms and various textures. Even though I sometimes get inspirations from nature and organic things, I deconstruct the formality and tactileness of them and put them together on canvas – maybe with some spiritual reaction to it. I also work more spontaneously just letting the materials form, harden, drip, or dry themselves – which is quite fun. So, my work is symbolically or iconically nothing in particular, but in a textural manner it should evoke  something to the audience. I am trying to see how a mixture of texture and abstract forms can resonate with people’s emotional conditions. 

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

HM: I guess I am having the same lifestyle as the majority of other emerging artists. I have a daily job to feed myself and pay my rent. For me, it is tough but lucky to be working for another artist, because I can learn so much from it and have a chance to think about the same thing/issue applying to my own situation – questioning like “what would I do in this particular situation if I were the artist?” Also, I consume a lot of my creative/intellectual power in my day job, so it is always a challenge to produce my own thing in my own time. I need to cultivate my own practice with the limited time and energy. I am trying to find a balance now, and ultimately I have to move past what I am doing now to become a fully independent artist.

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

HM: I have directions and plans in most cases. But I like to break them too. I think it is good to have a framework at first – an overview of a project/task, and that creates some limitations. Those limitations help you with getting across what is the most important. If you put yourself inside such a framework, then break it – this is where your instinct gets to do good work. 

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

HM: Art goes where people go. You have to put yourself out there and start having interactions with other people to make anything happen. If you are making art all by yourself nothing is going to happen.

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

HM: I am not sure about it. So, I don’t know why personal style and taste wouldn’t matter. No artist can avoid showing style and taste, and in that sense it might be very important. Even minimalists have their individual styles (it might be very slight sometimes though). At the same time however, at this point in art history, every possible “style”might have already been born to this world. It is surely very hard to make a purely new style that doesn’t evoke other styles or artists. 

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

HM: To keep believing in yourself and keep making.

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

HM: Artists have so much freedom in terms of what they can actually do as part of their work. 

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

HM: Eva Hesse and Tetsumi Kudo are still my biggest influences. I have been reading a lot about Eva Hesse recently and trying to understand her life and ideas.

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

HM: I would really appreciate it if someone invented a technology that automatically does laundry, drying and folding clothing so that I can have more time to make art? 

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

HM: Probably, yes. 

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

HM: I do. I especially liked Kanazawa City in Japan, where history, art and crafts are tied together, handed down to the younger generations, shaping how the contemporary art scene has developed. Their food is amazing too. I stayed there for a few days this past January but I want to go back.

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

HM: Mieko Kawakami

HM: Fizgerald’s The Great Gatsby

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

HM: I want to make bigger work. I need to overcome some obstacles first.

CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?

HM: Being an artist for me is like finding my own way to survive and growing as a human being along the path.

CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to? 

HM: It happened to be a Japanese rock band.

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?

HM: I want my work to be more squeamish but also compassionate. I would like an aesthetic that reconciles those two things. 

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