Kensuke koike - Gabriel Ernewein
When I first came across the art of Kensuke Koike, I was submerged by joy and amazement. This Japanese collage artist, who now lives in Europe, is able to play with images in a way that no other would imagine. The very dynamic part opens up in short videos he posts frequently on Instagram. Once you have discovered one of those videos and grasped the concept of making the viewer go through the artistic process, you cannot help but keep on wa tching others, excitingly waiting for the #nal climax, which very much resembles an artistic joke pun.
Koike was exposed in many art events around the globe. Through several projects, each centered on a dierent technic, he takes you into his very own imagination. Because it is not only the artwork you get to see, it is the whole transformation. Turning a plane in the sky into a !y- ing saucer or lifting up part of a portrait to make it look like a typical Japanese !ower arrangement, Koike acts like a magician. After being immerged into Koike’s work for this interview, I just have one advice : be careful not to lose your sense of reality.
On your Instagram, you describe yourself like an alche- mist. Which aspect of your art makes you an alchemist ?
The frst reason is that I don’t like to be called an artist, because the word “artist” is dicult. It means nothing. I describe myself as an alchemist because usually I collect abandoned material, and with my personal process and some technic, I transform it in something of value. So, I don’t make gold, like an alchemist, but I create something similar.
That alchemy is something that can be seen particularly in project Wish. It takes your creation to a magical level by trans- forming images into objects. What is the purpose behind those objects ?
Through my projects I understood something : my goal is not to make gold, but something that can aect people. Also, through the project wish, I wanted to make white diamonds. The point is not if I use photos as material, it can simply be something thrown away, something shiny or not. Giving a new value to this kind of objects through my work is my way to make people more awake.
The project to Wolf, caught my eye in that sense. How do you go from the pictures to the big marble columns ?
The pro- cess is always the same. I use my know-how and I think about how I am going to manage the creation of my object. It never becomes like a big shiny object. It all depends on my technic and how to approach the object. For the column I applied the technic of origami. I Just folded the big image of the marble. The #nal aspect can look more nostalgic or more pop to some people, but it is not very important because I just want to work with the paper and transform it.
Talking about origami, you put a lot of the Japanese culture and technics into your work. One of them is called Talismans from Yokai. Knowing that you were scared of yokai (Japanese ghosts) as a kid, was that project aiming to release that fear ?
Yes, because the fear is something that comes from you. So, if you know yourself better you can control your emotions, and fear is an emotion. Therefore, through my art I am always trying to ask myself : what was I thinking to do this kind of work ? Some peo- ple might ask “why did you made that ?” Well, it is also my curiosity to know why. So, after I made the work I always try to remember what I was thinking. It always depends on the inspiration that I get in my daily life. It is the same thing than story telling. You are thinking about how to make a story, so it is important to know yourself.
You studied and graduated in Italy and it is interesting that you mix western art and your primary culture into your work. Did you think of working with something typically Japanese ?
For me the origins of the material is not important. I have 50 000 photos that I am getting from !ea markets. It can come from South America or Italy. Nonetheless, when I use pictures of my family, like in one of my recent work, it is dierent. I cannot have the same relation with that kind of picture that I can have with a picture of strangers. I want to click my mind and be free with pictures that are not connected with my own life.
A big part of your work is built around the relationship between pictures and movement : how do you come up with this perspective ? (Or : How do you manage to see motion in a still picture ?)
The elements of what I called Todays curiosity are gen- erally quick work. I usually take one or two hours to make a piece. Then I try to make dierent videos and in three to four hours it is published on my Instagram. The videos I make are approximately one minute long. I began as a video artist for my past career, so I knew how people can get bored with this kind of !ash videos. You have to think of how you are going to manage the movement. The last one I made, I got to practice several times because it is a common image that can be found easily, The Birth of Venus by Botticelli. I always make some trials before the work is done, but I never show those trials because people must think that there is a sort of magic happening. For example, in one of the trials with the Venus, the hair is not aligned, or in another one, it comes in her face. Those are small details that probably nobody would care about, or even notice, but I want to reach perfection, so I keep on making trials. On the other hand, for unique pictures I cannot make mistakes, I only have one chance to make the perfect piece. It all depends on which kind of material I have in front of me. For the old post cards, which I have is great quantity, I don’t care if I make a mistake. I just take another one. This becomes sort of my distraction or my hobby if you want (laugh). I never show that to people because my work needs to be immediate.
And you are now preparing for an exhibition in Paris hap- pening in early November, can you tell me a bit about that ?
The work behind this exhibition is a collaboration with Thomas Sauvin, a French photographer. He gives me the material of Chinese portraits and I’m working on the collage. Those are silver prints I must cut and reassemble. We have already shown the work in China, but this is the #rst time in Europe. When I did the exhibition in China I didn’t have to choose the set, whereas in Europe I will be able to. We are also making a book that we will present at the same time as the exhibition.
Kensuke Koike has exposed his work during the second edition of A PPR OC HE in Paris.