Article: [ARTIDE After Talk①] Chiharu Kihara
[ARTIDE After Talk①] Chiharu Kihara
ARTIDE recently released the project's first item, ``Multi-Compact Wallet,'' through crowdfunding Makuake.
TIDE director Utsumi visited the participating up-and-coming artists and shared their feelings and memories during the process of this project, which was based on the theme of ``fusion of art and local industry,'' and at times, their true feelings leaked out. I will send you the details of the conversation.
The first one is Chiharu Kihara. This time, we visited Mr. Kihara's atelier and asked him about his story.
Please enjoy it together with the ARTIDE page and note (Kihara-san interview) .
Photographer: Shuhei Kubo Interview/Composition: Keisuke Kishimoto *The interview was held in November 2020.
Utsumi: Mr. Kihara, thank you very much for your participation in the ARTIDE project and for working with us until the release. The crowdfunding campaign has been very well received and sold out immediately after release.
Kihara: Thank you very much!
Utsumi: Mr. Kihara was involved in this project from the very beginning. We really had to start from scratch, and we had to think about what we could make together even before we had even decided what we were going to make. We have been working with you on this long journey, redoing the design many times. However, I ended up meeting Mr. Kihara face-to-face only once before the project was completed.
Kihara: That's right. This was my first experience with a project like this, and there were so many things I didn't understand...I probably could have done it better, but I really like the finished product!
Utsumi: Mr. Kihara, what were your impressions and feelings when this project started? I think it was a situation where the image was still not clear to me, but I wonder if it was excitement or fear.
Kihara: Well, it was just fun!
Utsumi: I'm happy about that, and that's amazing!
—— What was the reason you were so excited?
Kihara: Because it was about a job I had never done before. Furthermore, being able to create something together with an artisan and a challenging, avant-garde brand is exciting because you never know what will turn out. When you imagine something negative about an unprecedented story, you tend to get more and more negative, but I thought it would be more interesting than that. And I didn't know what would happen, but I thought it would work out somehow (lol).
Utsumi: That's positive!
Utsumi: Indeed, Mr. Kihara seemed to be having fun from beginning to end (lol).
Kihara: I was doing it pretty honestly (lol). It's still something that hasn't taken shape yet, and I don't know how I'm going to shape it from now on, so thinking about all the things that haven't happened is just tiring. That's why I thought that the joy of creating something from the beginning would become apparent as you do it.
Utsumi: TIDE had decided on various restrictions and decided to work within them. And all the writers responded to that. Now that I think about it, we did a really good job, and we didn't even meet. It still surprises me (lol).
Kihara: We did a really good job holding meetings via Zoom and exchanging details via LINE (lol).
—— While communicating using Zoom and LINE, we are creating products here in Tokyo and far away in Kagawa (TIDE's base). Looking back, are there any happy memories that you found difficult?
Kihara: What was a little stressful was that it was difficult to convey the nuances while showing the detailed specifications at hand. But if you write it down, you can understand it. I've never had that much trouble. Thanks to you, I was able to experience Zoom for the first time, and it was actually fun!
Utsumi: After all, you can't judge whether something is good or bad until you try making it.
Initially, this was not the case with the patchwork color scheme. I just felt like it didn't have enough color. But by the second time, it was already decided. So I tried sewing it and showed it to him, and he said, "This is it!"
Kihara: I was like, "That's great!"
Utsumi: After deciding on the color scheme, I sent the leather to Mr. Kihara and his team, had them draw on it, and send it back to me. Then, when it arrived, I was like, "Oh, that's amazing!" Isn't the original picture cool? However, when I had them draw on the leather using the original drawing as a base, it turned out cute. This gap between "cool" and "cute" made me feel uncomfortable in a good way. I had an image of something cool.
Kihara: You said it was a bit surprising.
Utsumi: Is it okay to include the original picture? It was difficult for me to interpret that.
Kihara: I understand, it's confusing.
Utsumi: But that's when I realized that it was art. That doesn't necessarily mean it's okay to just copy the original image.
When I first saw it, I couldn't tell if it was a cat or not because it didn't have ears (lol).
Kihara: It's true, I just realized it!
Utsumi: And as I listened to various stories, I completely realized that this gap is great!
Kihara: Instead of drawing things in the usual way, let's change the way we think a little and have fun drawing them! That's what happened. This kind of sensual approach is more artistic.
Instead, if it was just the cat on the back, it would look like an illustration, so I tried to create a balanced expression by incorporating the feeling I do in my paintings onto this leather.
Utsumi: Yes, this is a good balance.
Utsumi: What really surprised me was the sensitivity here. What's more, this line seems to be where I put the most effort into it. It seems that cats can be drawn quickly, but the line between here (front) and here (back) requires the most attention. That was surprising, wasn't it?
Kihara: In this wallet, you can only draw lines on this front and this back.
Not just anywhere. It's pinpoint.
Utsumi: I was moved when I heard this story. I thought it was because of this that it became art.
Kihara: At first, I thought it would be better to follow the original art a little more faithfully, but not in a more mature way. However, when I looked at the leather fabric, I thought, ``I don't want it to be too fancy.'' Then this picture of a cat popped up. I thought, "That's great!" Furthermore, I added something more sensuous than just this, and the overall composition... red, green, and cheerful colors are included, so I wonder if it will work.
Utsumi: It has been established! completely.
Kihara: I like that the inside is all black.
Utsumi: It was completed simply. Only Kihara's model has silver metal fittings. All others are gold. The silver metal fittings were specified by Mr. Kihara.
Kihara: On the contrary, I'm happy (lol).
Kihara: When I was thinking of going with this color scheme, I realized that silver was the only option for the metal fittings. If the metal fittings were gold, the gold patchwork part would be weak. I didn't want to add any color to the inside, so I thought the black would look nice and tight.
Utsumi: It was really good, as was the overall balance of the color scheme.
Kihara: You did really well (lol)
Utsumi: It's a miraculous feeling, and we didn't even meet.
Personally, I think there is nothing more or less, nothing to add to or subtract from.
And, this is a true story, but a friend of mine who I haven't known for a while contacted me and asked if I wanted a wallet modeled by Mr. Kihara.
Kihara: I'm happy! I'm not talking too much about it (lol)?
Utsumi: Someone I haven't seen since I graduated from high school, or a friend I haven't seen much of, contacted me for the first time in a while and said, ``This is cool and I want it.'' He said he saw it on TIDE's website and Instagram.
Kihara: The fact that we were contacted by such people must have been due to the project's attraction.
Utsumi: Yesterday, a friend I met for the first time in a long time also saw this project called ARTIDE and contacted me for the first time in 8 years.
Kihara: Eh, isn't it amazing! ? It's just a small event in life!
Utsumi: My life has come to a point where I can't talk about it without ARTIDE.
He said he was really grateful. . That's the story (lol).
Kihara: It's a wonderful project, with important encounters and everyone involved growing together. I'm kind of happy.
Utsumi: Yes, that's right.
—— How do you want customers to use this wallet?
Kihara: This is a piece of art that you can carry around with you, and I painted it in such a way that it won't get damaged or peel off, so I hope you can use it as you normally would. Customers who have purchased the product have said, ``It's a waste, so I'm going to display it, and I'm going to treasure it.'' That makes me very happy, but I created it with the concept of making art more familiar to people, so they can use it in their daily lives. I would be happy if you could use it. I think it would be great for people who think that art is distant in their daily lives to become closer to them by holding it on a daily basis. I hope this will be an opportunity for people to fall in love with art and go see it.
Utsumi: Mr. Kihara really understands our concept.
That's why he draws it the way he wants it to be drawn. They were really careful about that because it would be sad if it peeled off. I also did a lot of experiments.
Kihara: Yeah, yeah.
Kihara: I wonder if the color will break if I put color on the leather, if it will crack, and if it will be durable. If you put your wallet in your bag, it will rub, right? I wonder if I can handle that.
Utsumi: It was difficult because we had to confirm this with each writer.
Kihara: But I learned a lot from this.
Utsumi: Really? It was good, it was good.
Utsumi: Ah, that's right. There are actually two types of cats: angry cats and laughing cats.
There is a pattern of tsun and naughty.
We ask our customers to choose between them. By the way, the popularity is 50/50 right now!
Kihara: Ah, that's surprising. I thought Yancha was more popular!
Utsumi: There was no bias. I'll let you know what happened in the end!
—— Why did you decide to draw both tsun and naughty characters?
Kihara: There was a time when I received a combination of fabrics that hadn't even been sewn. There were two of them, and I decided to draw one of them. And while I was drawing one, I thought about changing the expression on the other one. If there was only one piece of fabric, the expression would have been one pattern.
Kihara: This wallet is hand-sewn from leather by urban craftsmen. I seriously imagined that what I drew there would be sewn into a final product that would be used by customers...in other words, it would become a product for sale. Since this picture is hand-drawn, it can be changed after receiving the customer's order, so I thought it would be okay if the expression didn't have the same pattern.
Kihara: If there are two facial expressions, customers will choose that one. I think if customers can choose for themselves, they will become even more attached to it.
Utsumi: In fact, all of our customers said, ``Both expressions looked good, so I was really confused.'' It's also nice to be able to talk to the customer again and ask, ``Why did you make this expression?'' This is unique to Mr. Kihara.
Kihara: If this was Utsumi-san, which expression would you choose? If I had to buy it with my own money (lol).
Utsumi: Would you choose the one who is smiling? I like to see myself smiling a lot.
Kihara: You always seem cheerful (lol).
Utsumi: (laughs). I smile to hide my dark side (lol). Ever since high school. I'm the type to laugh and cheer up because I'm weak! It feels like luck comes to those who laugh. I thought everyone would be happy if I laughed (lol).
Kihara: I never thought I would get to know what's behind that expression (lol). But it's amazing. It takes a lot of courage to smile. It also uses energy. There's also that compatibility. If it doesn't suit you physiologically, you're out, no matter how hard you try.
—— I would like to know where the ideas come from in your daily creative activities. Where do you usually get inspiration from, are there any solo exhibitions or works by anyone?
Kihara: I guess it's to get inspired...I guess. Until I was in my 10s, 20s, and early 30s, I would often go there to see other people's works. But now it has decreased. I've been here in the atelier all the time (lol).
Kihara: I used to think that if I didn't go see something like that, I would run out of ideas in my head, but I surprisingly realized that wasn't the case. With providence within myself. So, if you look outside yourself, there are plenty of materials, but I believe that there is a universe of imagination within your head and heart. Then, even in this place, we are actually able to develop. Also, the work I've been doing for the past 20 years is finally helping me in my current creative activities, and the imagination I've cultivated is now transcending forms once again, and I'm combining it with new things... Because it's getting thicker. But isn't it the inner universe that you think about? So I thought I could stay here forever. This sounds like a Zen-like thing...but maybe it's just an excuse that I don't want to move much (lol).
—— Do you consciously try not to look at or rely on external information that might be the basis for your ideas?
Kihara: It's not that I don't rely on it, and it's not that I absolutely avoid watching it. That feeling is left to the unconscious. I always keep my antenna up, even if it's unconsciously. When I'm not drawing, for example, I can automatically sense when I'm walking outside. Even if you don't know exactly what information you need for production right now. Because it's like a magnet. The antenna senses it, and a realization occurs. Then, I break it down and incorporate it into my production. I feel like we are interacting both consciously and unconsciously. This is stimulating.
Kihara: Also, the concept of my own expression is ``I want to create an energy source.'' A certain thing is a source of energy, and it's the same for us, the natural world, insects, the ocean, and everything else. The same goes for cells, the fundamental part of humans. The plate they are looking for is wide. I have energy within myself, and my daily work is based on the idea of how to express it through painting.
Each artist has different needs and expressions, but from the beginning I was drawn to the ``fundamental source of energy.'' I thought it would be possible to use the power of painting to express this in an original way. That's why many of my motifs are living things.
Kihara's beloved cat "Sosuke"
—— After hearing this, when I look at Kihara-san's paintings again, I feel that they are even more energetic. It's energetic but has a luster, and you can see the positive side of energy and the negative side of living things, and you can see it from multiple perspectives.
Kihara: You're right. I wanted to bring out the energy of cats and the interesting aspects of cats as living creatures in this motif, and I also wanted to draw the concept in a bare state.
Utsumi: At first glance, it looks cool, but in a good way, it's not a pretty picture. But overall it's balanced. I feel like I'm being drawn into it more and more, seeking a deeper understanding of why things are so well-balanced. I think it's amazing that it wasn't decided from the beginning that these colors would be used, but that it was decided as the project progressed. Absolutely not! That's why I'm a professional (laughs).
Kihara: I decided on the general pose of the cat, and then of course I decided on the various colors I wanted to combine. However, there are some things that happen accidentally while drawing. When I suddenly see something that is beyond my imagination, I think, ``Oh, it's necessary,'' and I incorporate it...as I go along.
—— Mr. Kihara, thank you very much for speaking with us today.
Finally, surround the wallet
Born in Yamaguchi Prefecture in 1979. He aspired to be a painter from an early age, and continued painting on his own after dropping out of high school. His first solo exhibition was held at Gallery Den (Tokyo) in 1999, and he has held numerous solo exhibitions and participated in group exhibitions. He depicts the "spirit of life" using motifs from the natural world such as animals and insects, making use of colors, shapes, and strokes. His dynamic works, which use not only tools but also his hands, elbows, and feet, leave a strong impression on people.
In recent years, he has been active as an artist, holding solo exhibitions at Lloyd Works Gallery in Tokyo and creating works at Hoshino Resorts ``Hoshino Resorts Kai Nagato''.