Artist Interview: Yuji Ichikawa

Massive in scale and yet delicate in form, Yuji Ichikawa’s artwork “Celestial Globe” captivated audiences at the “Answer From the Universe: Vision Towards the Horizons of Science and Art Through Muography” exhibit.  In anticipation of his participation in the exhibit at the Italian Institute of Culture at the Muographers General Assembly, Yuji Ichikawa was interviewed about his influences, technique and how muography and particle physics inspire him.

Q: Why did you choose the topic of muography?    

A: I heard about the planning of an exhibit “Answer From the Universe: Vision Towards the Horizons of Science and Art Through Muography” at the Tama Art University Museum. Since my work had huge scale and transparency effects, I talked with the curator, Takeshi Fuchida, about whether my work could express the world of muography. And for me I felt that interaction with muography was a wonderful way to expand the possibilities of my art, so I immediately accepted this opportunity.

Q: What inspires you to utilise industrial materials in your artworks?    

A: I studied painting in the genre named “Japanese style painting”. This was a traditional painting style using natural material such as animal adhesive glue, crushed mineral pigment, Japanese paper and silk. However, the natural material (having an affinity with nature and climate) appeared over 1000 years ago and used things that were familiar or valued long ago.  However, these materials that were familiar more than 1000 years ago are now almost impossible to get. Many items such as plastics and metals are made from artificial materials nowadays. In my opinion, I think that creating artworks using such artificial materials better represents the current mood of Japan.   

Q: You often use transparent and translucent materials in your artwork.  What motivates this choice?

A: Most paintings are drawn on a white screen to make the color stronger. In my case, like a specimen that is sandwiched between glasses, I draw it on a transparent thing in order to present the physicality of pictures and the sense of pure material.

Q: What do the circles, lines and other shapes represent in your work “Celestial Globe”?    

A: The surface of the work is covered with a rectangular aluminum foil and a small circle is stamped out.  Aluminum foil is a small mirror reflecting a part of the real world and it is also the smallest unit that makes up my paintings. And to make it clear that the world (structure) is made up of small units, we have a gap between the foil and the foil. In other words, the straight line is “a joint of the world (structure)”. And a small circle with aluminum foil die-cut represents the particles of a muon penetrating the world (structure). This sphere expresses the relation of the muon which travels down to the world of 360 degrees (structure) as it is. 

Q:  Why are most of your artworks large scale?

What I am comparing with the work size is nature such as mountains, trees, sea and waterfalls. I would like to express the sensible energy that I feel when I saw them in works. That is, the reason why the work is large is to model the size of nature.

Q: What inspires you the most about muography?

A: It is impressive that with muography we can see latent objects within gigantic structures.  This is similar to art.  For example, a painter draws the surface of an object, but is also trying to express the essence of what is hidden inside. I think while the actions are different, the objectives of artists and muographers are to capture these latent realities