|Untitled (Perpetually Still), 2010, oil on canvas, 24 x 23 3/4 inches|
|X Swell, 2009, oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inches|
|Deep Pour, 2011, oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches|
|China Tangent, 2010, oil on canvas, 9 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches|
|Vile Flow, 2011, oil on canvas, 12 x 12 inches|
PB: How did you get started in art and how did you come to find painting as your primary medium?
OK: I remember always drawing as a kid. My interest then was largely in creating my own cartoon and anime characters. By my teens, drawing naturalistically from life became another preoccupation.
Paint became my medium of choice for a couple of reasons. First of all, I saw it had the power to stay relevant and be responsive to my deeper thoughts. It never seemed ‘dead’ to me. I also liked paint’s unpredictability. When approaching my work, I usually have an intention in mind, but often, what I have in mind is different than what actually happens on canvas. A push and pull ensues between what I want and what the paint wants to do. When it works out, instead of a compromise, the result is better than what I could have anticipated. More often, however, it doesn’t work out, and I have to try other ideas.
PB: What sources inform your work and who in the history of painting inspires you?
OK: My work is usually in reaction to other paintings I’ve made before or other artists’ work I’ve seen. In either case, the work I look at and think about the most are the ones I can’t figure out. If I begin to feel I understand a work, I know I have control over it and lose interest. The ones that continue to evade me are the ones I’m inspired by. Mystery is an essential component of good work.
The painters I’ve been thinking about recently are: Vincent Van Gogh, Philip Guston, Alfred Jensen, Dorothea Rockburne, and Katherine Bradford.
PB: How about artists working in media other than painting; whose work have you seen recently that you consider remarkable or challenging?
OK: I enjoy experiencing all forms of art, though I rarely venture to see anything other than painting. I must have ADD as my mind wanders easily with almost anything time based. With paintings, whole ideas can be experienced in a glance.
PB: What period in art history do you consider pivotal to what is going on now?
OK: I don’t feel I have the lens to make a judgment on what is happening with art now on the whole, though among my peers I do see in their work a knowing yet casual conversation with many periods of art. Whether there’s a Surrealist, Pop, or Abstract Expressionistic aesthetic prevailing in the work, the ideas propelling it go beyond history to present concerns. In the work there’s often a flirtation with the ideals of universalism, though largely, the lean is towards the personal and subjective.
PB: How is your current environment (living/working/social) affecting you as an artist?
OK: Like many artists I know in New York, my life is heavily invested in art. I go to see work all the time, most of my friends are artists, and I work for an artist. I even pay more for my studio than my apartment. It’d be great to one day live and work in more isolation, but I’d hate to give up the resources of the city.
To see more: osamu-kobayashi.com