I’m pleased to introduce contemporary artists who are forging new paths, pioneering new techniques, deeply intuitive and inspiring!
Introducing Australian artist Leigh Camilleri
Leigh and I had a serendipitous first meeting in Hakone this April (2012) while our octogenarian mothers were chatting on a park bench. After that brief encounter, discovering Leigh was working on an art commission at a children’s hospital in Kobe, I visited her website and was immediately struck by the bright light, solitary power, and the wild earthiness of Leigh’s world. . .
‘My art has become so entwined with my life that I really don’t know where one starts and the other stops or if there is a definitive marker. The beginning of any artwork is partly memory and partially from my working journal. My working journal is a daily habit, a habit surrounded by the joys and frustrations of interacting with the world.’
Intuition is a part of the whole process, and for me becomes a part of the memory, an impression of how I felt about the subject and the content of the work. I prefer referencing subjects that are strong and simple but something that can happen every day, like a wild storm, or an attitude of a person. I do plan, mostly because I want the space to make some logical sense, but the intuition comes with the application of medium and the initial response to the subject. That application of medium becomes a discovery of surface, whether the surface is being scraped back, scratched into or built up, so it becomes a surface that is often far from naturalistic. I am not looking for the naturalistic, I’m looking for a response to space both for the viewer and myself.
Liane: Who are the artists you are influenced by?
Many other artists interest me, not necessarily by their work but by their individual work practice, artists such as Lucian Freud. Then there are artists that just spirit me away into the space they have created. J.M.W. Turner is one of these. Lloyd Rees is an Australian artist that also manages to produce works that are pure enigmas. I love drawing, so it is expected that I use drawing as a response to everything. There are so many but artists I admire and apologies to those I have neglected. This list is short but they include: Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Cezanne, Frank Auerbach, William Kentridge and Richard Serra and many paintings by children.
Liane: How does nature influence your art, your palette, the way you create?
Leigh: For many years I lived near a river or creek and had a strong relationship with an area called Moreton Bay. I now have the most beautiful wetland close by. It used to be a garbage dump and is on the edge of Moreton Bay, an area known for beautiful sand islands, whales, turtles, dugongs etc. The fact that it was a dump 30 years ago is an important part of it’s interest to me too. Too much of our beautiful country is treated like a garbage dump. In the Australian outback you will find all sorts of garbage, dumped cars that have stopped and never moved again, rustic to some, but an eyesore to me. The rich colours in a sub-tropical climate are something that does influence my palette. I do love the vastness of sky in Australia. It was something that really struck me when I was back in Japan, that unless you are near the sea, buildings are such a large part of the aesthetic. I often drive long distances (over 4 or 5 days) in Australia, you see the colours change with the vegetation and the animals change the colour of the earth and the depth of the sky changes. Another aspect is the heat of summer also affects my work, I am currently erecting an outdoor painting wall where the area is shaded and cooler.
Leigh: I’ve traveled to Japan on four occasions. Two of these times were as a child. During these trips I was discovering a means of painting and drawing, in textiles, fine arts and everyday Japanese life that were fascinating and to me new. I had never seen objects like them. Australia was at the time a series of towns where life was very simple, there were no crowds, there was a vast amount of open space, and small general stores and houses on quarter acre blocks and houses on stilts. I have always lived in the sub-tropics so the climate is harsh, and often very dry and dusty or thick with wild-life and green. Japan was a wild contrast. On one trip it was snowing, and still the branches of the trees hung at angles that I had not seen before. The streets were narrow and buzzing with trade, the colours were different, the light had a mildness to it that made everything look different to me. I remember going home and feeling that not only was the sky enormous but the light was bright and harsh but it was home.
Leigh: When I am depicting women, sometimes they are nude portraits. Other times clothed. I like to depict people not as their outer shell but as a complete part. I find drawing women nude quite a private thing, an uncovering of themselves. When I have people sit for me they can talk and be quite natural. I find I can get more of them onto the canvas that way. I find I’m interested in people as people not as a gender specific relationship. I want my figurative work to say something about them and their situation.
To the Northwest
Often, like in the painting ‘North to north-west’ the work is a direct response to a wild storm front that I was driving through. I am always thinking how I can articulate an event or feeling on paper, on canvas, in a sculpture. I have to do this quickly or the inspiration gets distorted with other distractions. Those distractions are those of life. I’m sure that every decision I make comes from art, other artists work or my own experience with art and artists: from the colours I paint my house (because the wall colour has to compliment artwork) to the type of garden we have, which even in Australia is wild and untamed. Art encompasses the way I live each day, how I think about life and change and transience of everything really.
For more information about Leigh Camilleri visit: http://web.mac.com/leighcamilleri/leigh_camilleri/Home.html
Introducing Intuitive Artist Kei Yasaka
Kei Yasaka, 37, lives and works in Fukuoka, Kyushu, with his parents,
grandmother, and his own two elementary school age kids, Ao and Yoshika.
The tranquility that comes from Kei’s paintings against this lively
backdrop is almost hard to fathom. Where does this inner peace come
from? Kei’s studio is adjacent to the family home. This is where the
artist closes the door and opens up to the universe.
Beautiful Spirit (2005)
Artwork influenced by Papua New Guinean culture. In Japanese,
beautiful spirit, utsukushi seirei, sounds more fairylike than of a holy spirit.
This work shows the strong influence Papua New Guinea culture had on me.
This was my turning point. From 2003, the year I went to live there, I had done
abstract art as a graduate student at Tama Bijutsu Daigaku
(Tama Art University). It was the period I was struggling to make my own style,
but the teachers didn’t appreciate what I was doing.
I combined figures with abstract background. Then in Papua
New Guinea I deeply felt some vibration from the universe. I met people
with whom I could share my spiritual sensitivity and they understood
intuitively. Nature in Papua New Guinea is very strong — mountains,
winds, sunlight. I could feel this big power, or energy, change my style
and way of thinking. The elder people can still feel spiritual things
from nature. A statue, for instance, represents an animal spirit . . . .
so when I spent time there I started to get a similar feeling in my art.
The art was representing some spiritual energy that I couldn’t yet name.
2007 Tojitara Hiraku It will open when it is closed
This is one of the early works I painted with just intuition. This work was
the start of focusing on my own connection with existence.
If I reject all social influence or logic maybe the painting won’t start
or won’t finish, so in the beginning it’s like a call and response, or a
question and answer. The canvas is already the question, the call to the
universe. In the universe there is no rule about art that it must be
square or rectangular. But when we put a specific size of canvas in
front of us, we are saying please give me some answer to this size of
Then if I put out too many questions this size of canvas can’t accept them
all so I just put very small lines or pale colors in the beginning. Just
this tiny sensitive touch is the beginning. This touch is artificial.
Its not intuition. Then I can accept whatever comes next as the response
from the universe.
For this work I got inspiration from the outskirts of Tokyo. Sunshine
from beautiful treetops, a small stream in the mountains. Through these
things I felt the universe is using me to draw out something important
about how we love. I can still feel something important in Tokyo.
Sometimes Japan can be very weak because of the artificial things but
sometimes its very pure, godlike.
But after my kids were born in Tokyo circumstances were pushing me to go
back to Fukuoka. I needed nature itself. Forest. Sunlight. Trees. Especially I
found these at Mount Aso in Kyushu, a 150 km drive from m home.
There is a huge and strong energy there. If I wanted to continue my artwork with nature I
realized that I had to live near there. So I decided to go back to
something familiar. If the universe had a human voice it would say keep
going with your artwork and go back to Fukuoka. You can paraphrase our
light through your art.
Posed to Fly 2011
If someone finds a figure of a bird or fountain I always let them feel
as they want.
When I finish a painting and find a figure of a bird I too think his
painting has an energy like flying. Or jumping to the next dimension. So
that figure must be a symbol or a signature or sign or communication
path to our consciousness. So the universe uses our memory to make us
feel more free or feel like the fluttering a bird.
2011 Rainbow days
My recent works are made with mixed media techniques.
Recently, I realized that when I took photographs, I am using a high
dimensional sense to catch spiritual energy. Photography can
easily distinguish between no spirit and high energy. I use
photographs and drawings and blend them in Photoshop software. Then I print on washi
paper with pigments from a specialty workshop in Tokushima, Shikoku.
They adjust the color with careful skill. They are kind of artisans.
Some works are painted again on the surface.
My daughter commented, ” I feel a rainbow breeze from imaginary another
world .” Obviously my kids come to my exhibitions and they feel that the
pictures are windows to the imaginary world, fushigi no kuni mitai.
Frequently my son Ao says my art looks like rainbows and my daughter
Yoshika calls what she sees ‘rainbow breathing.’
Working with color, I have to be careful. I have my own balance scale.
On one side I put pink and orange and the other side I put green and a
gold line, for example. Then I check this balance scale. Which feels
more like the vibration of love? If its artificial or logical the
frequency will be low. This balance scale is a very important tool for
the process of my paintings.
I don’t spend much time looking at my paintings between sessions. No,
completely no. I force myself to throw ‘me’ out of the
paintings. I don’t want Kei in the art. If I spend a long time looking
at my paintings so many logical things come up. I become critical. I
don’t want to critique my paintings or anyone else’s. I just want to
meet art through vibration and intuition.
# # #
Introducing Los-Angeles based, Russian-intuitive Artist Larisa Pilinsky
Intuitive paintings by Larisa (Lark) Pilinsky
By Liane Wakabayashi
Intuitive artist Lark usually doesn’t know ahead what she will paint. She is guided by her choice of palette and the movement she brings to her brushes. So when Lark created Movement shortly before the catastrophic 3/13 tsunami in Japan she was taken aback. She wondered why her usually peaceful waters had gone wild.
I do a really spontaneous movement with my hand and usually something wonderful happens. I was in the mood to paint an ocean, so I chose the colors from the beginning. The start is always important for me.
Lark’s paintings are journeys of the imagination that use nature as a metaphor for whatever is happening in her life unconsciously at the time. Usually they are safe and tame, as in Sun-Spilled Gold.
Lark describes Sun-Spilled Gold as the painting that flew out of her most effortlessly when a palette of ocean colors led her to hand movements in large horizontal strokes. I started painting with blue, gold yellow and somehow it spilled, creating a reflection of the sun. You see in the middle at the bottom where I started with the blue-green that became the ocean. My hands began moving like ocean from side to side.
Lark makes the painting process look effortless but she says she is always afraid to start a new canvas, especially a big one. I think what if I spoil this big beautiful white canvas?
She began painting about 15 years ago, arriving at her own intuitive approach under the influence of a group of Armenian abstract artists she had befriended in Los Angeles.
I was helping Kiki, an Armenian artist friend and leader of the Bunker Art abstract movemen, by making the base of his collages. I would glue, nail, and then bring these pieces to him and he would paint on top of them. I was fascinated with this approach. I didn’t know it was even possible to work in this manner. It was a discovery for me that I could just play with art materials this way. One day when I brought him a collage background he said he couldn’t paint over it. He called it my art work. Kiki encouraged me to continue improvising at home. In 1995 I was asked to join the 12 Bunker artists in an exhibition. The funny thing was that nobody’s works sold but mine.
John Lennon Collage for me was easy. Okay you move the papers back and forth. If you don’t like something, don’t glue it. Remove it. Just continue moving but painting it seemed to be you did it, you can’t erase it, especially with oil paint.
In Russia, where Lark was born and raised, she was spontaneously good in drawing but was torn between being a writer or an artist. “In the 8th grade I could go to art college but it was pedagogical art college. My mom asked me do you want to be a teacher?” No, I wanted to be an artist. If I had learned to draw professionally at art college I wouldn’t be who I am,
Lark went in the direction of journalism, drawing portraits as a hobby until shortly after she arrived in the USA and met Kiki and his Bunker Artists in LA. “Kiki doesn’t like representational art– and in the beginning I was very much influenced by him, so for me to go in another direction was to get out of the group. There with the Bunker Artists it was more safe in a way. When you start getting representational, you either do it great or you don’t do it. So for me, representational art is half hidden. It’s the struggle between the material and the technique.”
Once you do a really good painting you have to consciously tell yourself to just continue doing it. (Lark do you want to clarify this or is this okay?)
“Now Tender was the transitional piece from collage to painting. It was my first large canvas. I was afraid to paint. Before this I was doing collages.
My mother had been diagnosed with cancer and she was ready to go to another world. I started painting these lilac skies, transitional for her and for me. If you look at it there’s an empty chair, a sense of presence but also departure, a surrealistic feeling between worlds, On one side a landscape and the violet, it s a dark lilac. I was probably going through pain.
After I did this one, okay I thought, why don’t I continue? Now Tender gave me assurance that I could meditate with colors the same way I had been meditating with papers and found objects. By meditative quality, I mean I needed to be in a space of no mind. I wouldn’t think about anything or about time. It would be 3 in the morning.
Intuitive painting means that you don’t know what is going to come out of you. The work that was the absolute toughest to complete was one that I decided to do painting over paper. It’s a technique where you glue different papers, probably 2-3 layers at least, under the painting. Then I started painting and immediately something was interesting. I continued painting and the woman you see is a piece of the metal wire. I put the lace in spontaneously and it reminded me of my nephew and his new girlfriend. I really liked this figure and left it and at some point I put the net on the top. I gave it to my daughter and it was probably in her apartment for 5 years and she gave me the painting back when she moved house.
The struggle in combining collage and painting is in the invisible way the materials work together so the collage won’t stick out, so it will be harmonious. The piece of metal I chose to represent the body was big. I have this challenge when I have something like this is, to hide the obvious. After five years I had become interested in this sense of painting air so I painted over this net. I added more white and goldish from the right side. Finally I started doing the little cross movements with chalk and the next day an actress came to visit me and I was showing her all the paintings. She saw this one, fell in love and bought it as soon as I put the last cross of the chalk. She saw the goddess of love and beauty in this figure so we call it Aurora, the goddess of sunrise.
White Eagle Night is another painting Lark has special attachment to. It was sold immediately to the Japanese family with whom she stayed during a trip to Japan with her spiritual teacher, the Buddhist monk Cielo. “When I came home, I created this painting and this figure reminded me of an eagel. Then my Japanese friend told me that in classical Japanese painted doors placed between rooms, a Japanese eagles. often appears. I had this affinity for Japan but I had no idea about the eagles