An Interview with Artist Tadasky (Tadasuke Kuwayama)

February, 2013

JK: You lived in Japan from 1986-93 where Patty worked first for Chemical Bank and then as chief economist at J.P. Morgan. In 1989 you exhibited some of the work you made there at the Tokyo Gallery.

You continued to use the airbrush extensively at this time.

J 5, acrylic on canvas, 91 x 91 cm (36 x 36 in), 1988J 5 detail

T: I used it to create both very fine dots and large splotches of paint. I really enjoyed this process.

JK: In many paintings from this time, you used forms and divisions of the canvas that you’d used before, always varying combinations of colors and shapes.

T: I like that you cannot see behind all the forms. This makes the paintings more mysterious.

J 47, acrylic on canvas, 89 x 89 cm (35 x 35 in), 1988J 19, acrylic on canvas, 91 x 91 cm (36 x 36 in), 1988
J 87, acrylic on canvas, 42 x 42 cm (16.5 x 16.5 in), 1991J 130, acrylic on canvas, 42 x 42 cm (16.5 x 16.5 in), 1991

JK: You frequently combined and overlapped different shapes in these paintings—here a hazy, central circle within a square, which in turn overlap a diamond that is itself crossed by a white circular ring.

J 22, acrylic on canvas, 91 x 91 cm (36 x 36 in), 1988

I always ask myself, “What would happen if … ” I like to create a feeling of mystery, of shapes floating in space. I can create things you would not find in the natural world.

J 29, acrylic on canvas, 89 x 89 cm (35 x 35 in), 1988J 15, acrylic on canvas, 91 x 91 cm (36 x 36 in), 1988

JK: When you returned from Japan, you lived on Lower Broadway for a while, and in 1998, you moved to Chelsea where you live today.

In the late 1990s, you made a series of very colorful paintings composed of fairly irregular lines, oriented either horizontally or vertically, often partially covered with dots of paint.

K 115, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 cm (14 x 14 in), 1996K 115 detail

T: Here you don’t see my usual thin layers. I applied the paint thickly, dripping it from a brush to make the dots.

K 100, acrylic on canvas,
76 x 41 cm (30 x 16 in), 1996

JK: Using a technique that was quite different for you, you first would paint a canvas on your drum, and then you would often cut the canvas up, showing a single piece or joining several sections together.

T: Yes. K 108 is made from two pieces cut from a single canvas and attached to two stretchers.

K 108, acrylic on canvas, 91 x 79 cm (36 x 31 in), 1996

JK: In K 148, the lines are quite irregular in thickness and often broken.

K 148, acrylic on canvas,
178 x 122 cm (70 x 48 in), 2000
K 148 detail

You also used irregular lines in K 2.

T: I am experimenting, trying something that is more accidental.

K 2, acrylic on canvas, 86 x 86 cm (34 x 34 in), 2000

JK: This was another point at which you once again made some very tall, thin works.

T: Sometimes I would orient the stripes vertically—just as they were painted on the drum— and sometimes I oriented them horizontally.

K 112, acrylic on canvas,
160 x 33 cm (63 x 13 in), 1996
K 124, acrylic on canvas,
183 x 36 cm (72 x 14 in), 2000
K 147, acrylic on canvas,
183 x 84 cm (72 x 33 in), 2000

JK: In the paintings you made after this highly distinctive K series, you continued to favor the airbrush.

M 125, acrylic on canvas, 74 x 74 cm (29 x 29 in), 2008

You often contrasted forms that are loosely—and often quite delicately— formed by dots of color with more precisely articulated shapes or grid lines.

M 150, acrylic on canvas, 97 x 97 cm (38 x 38 in), 2008

T: I am always getting new ideas that I want to try.

M 290, acrylic on canvas, 81 x 81 cm (32 x 32 in), 2010

JK: In some of these paintings, the energy created by the dots feels relatively contained. Our gaze might be drawn into a deep, dark center or rebuffed by a flatter central form.

T: I was experimenting with new ways to place my forms in space.

M 270, acrylic on canvas, 97 x 97 cm (38 x 38 in), 2010M 166a, acrylic on canvas, 107 x 107 cm (42 x 42 in), 2008

JK: In some paintings from this M series, the energy of the dots of color seems ready to burst beyond the limits of the canvas.

M 144, acrylic on canvas, 76 x 76 cm (30 x 30 in), 2008M 138, acrylic on canvas, 74 x 74 cm (29 x 29 in), 2008

At times you combine multiple forms, and at others you present a single shape that dominates the format—things that you have done before, but always with a different twist.

M 58, acrylic on canvas, 81 x 81 cm (32 x 32 in), 2007M 126, acrylic on canvas,91 x 91 cm  (36 x 36 in), 2008

In some of your most recent paintings, we see again the sharply defined concentric circles typical of your work from the 60s, though some use of airbrush typically softens parts of the forms.

N 208, acrylic on canvas, 81 x 81 cm (32 x 32 in), 2012N 212, acrylic on canvas, 81 x 81 cm (32 x 32 in), 2012

T: I like to combine the clean, crisp forms with soft areas I create with the airbrush.

N 302, acrylic on canvas, 91 x 91 cm (36 x 36 in), 2012N 303, acrylic on canvas, 122 x 122 cm (48 x 48 in), 2012

JK: In some of these works, it feels like you are inviting us to enter a deep and mysterious space despite the use of familiar forms. You have—as you have always intended—created your own world.

N 313, acrylic on canvas, 122 x 122 cm (48 x 48 in), 2012

T: My history as an artist has given me great confidence in my painting. I am very lucky—I enjoy my work, and I am always thinking about my next painting. I feel challenged—”How closely can I paint on canvas what is in my imagination?”

I believe that people will find my work beautiful even 100 years from now. They will understand and respond to the simple forms that I use that are all around us. I don’t think I will ever run out of ideas—I am confident that I will always find things that are interesting to explore.

Portrait of the artist, Tadasky, 2005
Photo credit: Michael Kanakis

 Learn more about Tadasky at www.tadasuke.kuwayama.com



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