Yuma se Muralsby Rob Scher / 03.11.2011
/A WORD OF ART recently welcomed Japanese artist, Yumanizumu Yoshimura from Tokyo to Woodstock. For the last two months Yuma has attempted his first mural and produced a body of work influenced by his time in South Africa. More recently, the Woodstock Industrial Centre has also become home to Venezuelan artists/musician/maker of things, Veronica Jimenez. Together they add to the already impressive list of international residents who have been temporary tenants of this space. The two will both be exhibiting their work at the space today. We caught up with /A WORD OF ART curator Ricky Gordon, Yumanizumu and Veronica to talk about the show, Venezuelan birds and South African sushi.
Mahala:It’s been a while since you’ve had a show at /A WORD OF ART (/AWOA) I know that you weren’t quite sure for a bit what direction /AWOA was taking. At this point where do you see it heading?
Ricky: Um, /AWOA was never set up as a sustainable business. It was set up as a way that I could connect the things I want to do. So it was a little bit of everything I love, it’s not just one thing. It’s also a lot of work, and I want to put in the work but it’s not easy to maintain, because the world changes. Nothing is constant. But, if you give into that and change things when they need to be changed, go with your feelings, good things can come about. I recently spent some time in the States. Those two months gave me a good understanding of an ‘international community’ and that’s what the residency is. It’s bringing a community here, becoming its own life form as each resident brings their own story, and thus inspiring a local community. As an artist, the most fun experience is playing with other artists. As a kid playing together was the best way to have fun, creating a world and imagining together. Residents come in and share. Residents from overseas are keen to come over. They’re often creating the means to come here. It’s becoming more widespread. Each time a resident comes they’re spreading the word amongst their community back home. In this way it can become sustainable because the residents are more than just that, they’re community builders. Each resident comes with a new idea and adds a new perspective. There are enough people in Cape Town who care about the same things, and can become citizens of a community. We want to motivate this building as an art precinct and an industrial centre, to get art happenings occuring weekly – Friday, Saturday, Sunday, within all the various fields. And a residency is the key for this because you will have five artists here who want to experience South Africa but more than anything they want to make art. They’re in a new environment, they’re inspired and the creativity is just gushing out of them. So they’re coming with their stories, affected by South Africa, and then creating. So that’s my drive, for this to become a long-term project – ten to fifteen years. And for that to happen I need a big platform, I need government and community support. So, I want to work here, find out how I can work with the government and work in Joburg. Never mind globalization, it’s South African connectivity that’s important. It’s not about the drive, it’s about compassion for the idea.
OK, so Yuma, what’s been your perception of coming to Cape Town, how would you compare it to Tokyo? Similarities, differences?
Yuma: Yes, of course Cape Town is different to Tokyo. It’s very quiet, and full of nature – forests, sea. And the smell… I feel very relaxed here. Tokyo, it’s very busy and noisy. Cape Town – more relaxed.
So, how has your time here affected the art that you’re making?
Yuma: Um, I think not Cape Town only but South Africa. Of course Japanese history is very deep but South African history I think is very difficult. I saw a documentary with Mandela, I thinking this is a great country… So I wanted that other energy – international energy, so I researched online and found Ricky and /AWOA.
Ricky: I saw he was from Tokyo and said, “OK cool come!”
Yuma: But South Africa… far… far…
What kind of art do you make in Tokyo?
Yuma: I do a little bit of street art but it’s hard because of security, they don’t allow it… So I mostly do studio work and design shoes.
Ricky: He customises shoes, made a thousand pairs in Japan.
So what I’m trying to ask you is do you think your art has changed since you’ve been in Cape Town, have you been influenced by what you’ve seen?
Yuma: Yeah… I would say so… My style is very serious, and delicate, and sometimes it’s dynamic and rough. So I thought in the future I wanted to try create a fusion. But it’s difficult, everyday I try but it’s confusing. So, having an outside energy like Cape Town has helped. I got a big wall to paint here. It was my first time I have painted a big mural. So, it has allowed me to incorporate the delicate style of my painting with my more rough work. I have been able to mix the rough and the soft. So, I found a new style but yeah, very important in Cape Town – my fusion happened here.
So when you go back to Tokyo, will you try painting some bigger murals?
Yuma: Yeah, so I began on shoes first… and now I think no, no good. Bigger. In Tokyo it’s so difficult to paint walls but I want to do more mural painting in Tokyo. Only few artists can do this, and I want to try.
On to more serious matters. Food. Have you tried the sushi over here?
Yuma: Sushi in South Africa is *Sauri… Oh wait no, that’s a movie. I don’t remember.
Yuma: Haha, no not sashimi. Sushi is… fresh. It’s good. It’s my number one international sushi that I’ve tried. I don’t really eat sushi in Japan – very expensive. So in South Africa, many many times… yum yum.
So you actually come to South Africa to eat sushi – who would have thought. Had any Lost in Translation moments?
Yuma: Aaah yes, the church… Maybe, my first… Sad moment… inside the church.
I’m now intrigued. So what happened? Ricky?
Ricky: Yuma arrived and we took a bucket of paint and went to a wall nearby that /AWOA had previously painted and asked the owner who told us can we paint these two doors. I painted an impala, and Yuma painted one of his characters. I finished on the first day and Yuma went back the next to finish. Someone approached him and said, “this is my church, you can’t paint here”. Yuma was painting on the door of a church. The local furniture store owner, Mohammed, had given us permission to paint the wall. Yuma didn’t quite understand and we had to paint over that. After that Yuma walked around looking for a wall to paint. He looked for two days. That’s when he met Jody.
Yuma: Yeah Jody is very strange.
Ricky: So Jody has a big wall and Yuma decided that was the wall he wanted to paint. Yuma shows Jody his portfolio, and gets invited inside. He explains he wants to paint the wall. He shows me the wall, it’s huge and I realise we’re going to need scaffolding. Jody says no problem I have scaffolding. We set it up and it only goes halfway up the wall and is pretty rickety. Yuma was stressed.
Yuma: I was a bit naïve.
Ricky: Well another thing was that Yuma had chosen an area of Woodstock where the environment is a bit hostile, an area that was quite industrial. But for Yuma this was Woodstock and he’s brave. Yuma’s name means “Brave Horse”.
And he got it done?
Ricky: Well he got humbled, because on the first day he was up the ladder his paint got stolen.
Welcome to Woodstock.
Ricky: Exactly what I said… Well eventually we managed to get a crane sponsored and Yuma was able to paint the top of the mural and finish it.
Yuma: It was great.
What can be expected at the show on Thursday [today]. What should people be expecting?
Yuma: Um… I want people to relax, I want people to laugh and be happy, and listen to music.
Ricky, what’s been your experience working with Yuma?
Ricky: I think Yuma has shed light on the practice of painting a lot. It’s been a meaningful and personal experience, and anyone can identify with that. He applies a lot of instinct to it and its been fun for both of us. Yuma has allowed his instincts to gravitate to what he’s produced in a new environment and his instincts become something new and then his vision becomes clearer. I just help to facilitate it. All we can do is help them to reach that frequency. Yuma described his work to me in the beginning as “chaos”. I said no, I see “harmony”.
Yuma: So what Ricky said was very important to me. I think oh, harmony is very important so… Ricky teach me how to combine these ideas… now I understand.
Ricky: I teach him to roll cigarettes.
Yuma: Yes, Ricky sensei-roller.
Now to Veronica. You’ve been here a month?
Veronica: It’s been magical so far.
So what are you planning on doing during your time here?
Veronica: I really want to share my work with people. I want to go into the community. Next week we are going to go work with some children. Teaching them to sew, in an artistic way. Using their imagination to create interesting things. I hope to share with people, talk with people and be outside in nature. I’m also a fan of music so all these ideas.. ding ding!
So what are you doing for the exhibit?
Veronica: I’m working on a lot of things but one of the things is I built an electronic instrument that people have to touch between them to make the sound. So it’s about contact, it creates a high-pitched beep by passing a current through people. It’s a bird and inspired by a traditional bird from Venezuela. So instruments, sewing stuff, words.
Ricky: So initially Veronica was just going to have an installation. It changed into a little world. Veronica jumped into the opportunity and sent me a message saying she has an idea, she needs a sewing machine and the first friends she’s made in Cape Town have a sewing machine. Then she needs fabric, and she finds the factory and now she has lots of fabric and then she throws it all over the place. I think she’s definitely ready, it’s a connection of different energies and tomorrow she moves into the gallery and puts her stuff up.
Yumanizumu (Tokyo/Japan) will be exhibiting a large body of work including drawings,sculptures, paintings and installations all made during his 2 month residency with /A WORD OF ART.
Veronica Casellas Jimenez (Venezuela) will also be exhibiting her new work.
Feel free to pull in for the opening party with guest DJ’S JAKOB SNAKE / PLAIGARHYTHM / FUZZY SLIPPERS / VERONICA.
The gig starts at 8PM and closes at 2AM. The show then runs for another two days.