In this, the first of what will hopefully be many Artist Interviews – we delve into the art practice of Japanese Artist Haruyo Morita and the impact of her cultural heritage, and location on her abstract art making practice.
Haruyo Morita in her studio – Photograph credit Michael K Chin
Tell us a bit about you and your background – where are you based and what do you do?
I was born and raised in a small town of Japan. My home town is well known for pottery and Washi paper making. Surrounded by mountains, rice field and green tea farms. It is a very remote area.
So it was natural for me to start creating art at young age.
I was based in Sydney for 13 years and few weeks ago I moved to Nantes in France.
I do mainly abstract work. Using Japanese calligraphy ink, mineral pigments and shell powder, gold and silver leaf on to Belgian linen that I stretch myself.
Can you tell me a bit about your art practice? How do you work? And how has your artwork or approach to artmaking changed over time?
My inspiration for art always has been a spiritual practice. As I grew up in Japan, we didn’t have any religious study. So what I mean by spiritual practice is – seeking / imagining or visualising where I’m coming from, where I’m going and who I am now.
Instead of seeking ‘God’ elsewhere, my spiritual practice is more for improving and focusing my own practice and to being a better human being. Painting is something I do this for I think.
Usually I start with short meditation. It’s very important for me to do so. Making my self calm and centered, emptied, to be like a bamboo. Then something happens in the form of art.
I started with oil paint, painting different subjects. I used to love it. One day I didn’t feel like painting objects, and then stopped using oil. At that point I changed to water colours and ink and pigments.
It’s always changing and it’ll change more in the future. But I don’t think my core concept in art will ever change.
Assuming you have dabbled with different mediums, what drives your desire to use your most favoured medium?
When I was little I learned calligraphy at school. I loved it. So I took lessons after school and continued practicing for over 10 years. So I think using Japanese calligraphy ink for my paining is coming from that.
Simply it’s a very comfortable medium to use. And I love the smell of the ink. It brings me back in to the calming state straight away.
Often black is too strong and not suitable for every art style. However in my country black represent many different colors. I can create many different shades of grays with Japanese calligraphy ink. So I think it’s a life time journey of discovering how I can use this medium in to my art.
Can you name one thing from your artists toolkit you couldn’t live without?
Has to be one? Japanese ink… At the moment.
What is the hardest part about being a creative person or an artist in your experience? What has been your biggest challenge?
Everything is challenge.. But finding a studio space and materials that suits to what I want to create at the time is always a challenge.
Instagram and Facebook are my research field. I often talk to other artists asking what they use, where they are getting the materials from..
Every country has different art supply brand and interesting mediums and tools. So I like discovering new things and combine with what I have.
That experiment brings me a lot of inspiration sometimes.
The place I’m living in now is known for salt. I’m excited to use this special salt in to my new art.
Can you name three artists you admire, or would suggest we take a look at?
I always love Monet. First time when I saw his painting at the Orangerie museum in Paris I was shocked. I felt something changed in myself. I think his paintings are some of the most powerful.
In front of painting I always close my eyes for few seconds and make a wish. I feel like something good will come true in front of his art, in my imagination.
Also Mark Rothko, Giorgio Morandi, Joan Miró… I also like French artist Genevieve Asse. Her blues are a miracle.
I follow so many artists on Instagram but I’m big fan of Australian Artist Adam Lee, Canadian Sculptor David Altmejd , @actuallycraig , …… I have too many favorites!