March 8 – June 30, 2014 /Opening: March 8th 6-8 PM
No Eyes Viewing Wall (NEVW) at the Brooklyn Zen Center is pleased to present a single new painting by New York based artist Kikuko Morimoto. The 11 yard long work consisting of acrylic washes on paper and canvas was made specifically for the No-Eyes Viewing Wall. Due to the work’s formidable scale, the artist used the large formal meditation space as art studio.
The NEVW program offers a chance to experience new artworks through the lens of a functioning meditation and mindfulness community. Each exhibition includes a conversation or an experiment regarding the states of mind involved in creating art, as both research for the artist and an offering to the public. Kikuko shared the following words:
“Usually I start with a pale color and I layer them, but when people saw the early layers, they said “Oh- this is water, or this is ocean, this is river” and I thought about how to make it something not so particular, and I thought to make it darker. But maybe that was not a good idea (laughing). So then I started to make it dark, and I thought, maybe its too dark…”
Noah Fischer interviews Kikuko Morimoto in advance of her exhibition “This is Not Water” at the NO Eyes Viewing Wall of Brooklyn Zen Center
NF: Do you feel that you’re finished with the piece for the NEVW?
KM: I’m not sure, I don’t know yet, I still have to look more
NF: How was your experience working inside the zendo as you created this large painting?
KM: It was very difficult. At times, I regretted it.
NF: Regretted what?
KM: That I started. Maybe I was- what’s the expression? “Biting into more than I could chew.” So I thought maybe this is too big. Its really strenuous to paint edge to edge on this size, it take a really long time to finish, and its so big that you can’t really see the whole thing, and no matter where I stand I can’t see everything. I had a high chair but still couldn’t really see, that was the hard part.
NF: What qualities were you looking for in order to feel it was completed and to feel good about it?
KM: My initial idea was I wanted to see something big and blue across the wall. Usually I start with a pale color and I layer them, but when people saw the early layers, they said “Oh- this is water, or this is ocean, this is river” and I thought about how to make it something not so particular, and I thought to make it darker. But maybe that was not a good idea (laughing). So then I started to make it dark, and I thought, maybe its too dark…
NF: So it sounds like there were a lot of questions and judgments and uncertainties.
Do you think the uncertainties came from anticipating people’s judgments or was it about your own happiness with the piece?
KM: Well, I’m always looking for some kind of sensation I get from the piece, some excitement. But sometimes you go over the point.
NF: Tell me about your artistic path in your life. When did art practice become important to you?
KM: I was making film and tv before, and film and tv has a lot of process, lot of business and negotiation and writing and thinking and it involves a lot of people. Painting is much simpler. If you have paper and paint, you can do it without negotiating. That’s my freedom. Even though I was making film and tv, I didn’t feel really creative. I needed to do something to let it out. So I’d go to paper and just paint. When I’m making film, and tv it was a little suffocating. In the process, you don’t really feel like you’re creating but rather negotiating and that was frustrating, and it was suffering. I needed to relieve the frustrations.
NF: Does the painting continue to feel free as you are practicing it over time, and taking classes and becoming more professional?
KM: It’s a little different now. Now I’m not just tryng to get my frustration out, which sometimes came out dark and dirty and terrible! Now I’m looking to create something beautiful. That’s what I’m looking for in my artwork. Now before I paint, I have to find a really peaceful space in me, so then I can really work and make something beautiful. This is a different approach.
NF: And what do you think about having this piece up in the space at Zen Center. Do you look forward to practicing here with your piece in the wall?
KM: Well, it’s a little scary, you’ll be exposed, you’ll be open to being criticized.
NF: So, what is being exposed?
KM: Besides the painting?
NF: How about that sign o the BZC kitchen wall that says “You are Not the Soup.” Is it true that you are not the painting? Or maybe you are a little?
KM: I am still identifying myself a little with the painting, so there’s a fear of failing…that people will judge my painting and say yes or no.
NF: And what if they find it beautiful, is that also dangerous?
KM: That’s also dangerous. When people says its gorgeous or beautiful, you feel a little flattered, and now you’re identifying with this piece: that’s me. But I don’t yet know how this Buddhist practice will apply to all this.
Also, I noticed that I’m thinking about Zen Buddhism. Instead of pink and purple, I am thinking on a monochromatic scale. I was looking at a book of robes form the BZC library, which was very beautful but monochromatic. I’m being influenced, maybe I’m limiting myself.
NF: Kiku, thanks you for contributing your thinking and work.