Yugi Hiratsuka

Japan is a land of contrast. On the surface, it appears that the culture of Japan has taken on thoroughly American and European characteristics, but behind this Western façade, Japan’s ancient and traditional philosophies have survived. I was raised in Japan among a mixture of eastern and western influences. For example, Japanese gardens are cultivated high atop thirty story Western skyscrapers and people dine at a McDonald’s fast food restaurant or sip a cup of coffee at Starbucks while watching Sumo wrestling.

In my work, I explore this co-existence of eastern and western influences. My images bear a slight resemblance to traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e prints (which were frequently decorative, brightly colored and featured highly stylized exaggerated and distorted figures) while also expressing contemporary aspects of the western world.

Although my artwork is mainly considered representational, I deal with more metaphorical aspects rather than realistic physical evidence. The human body along with other elements: fruit, vegetables, furniture, animals, etc. have been my most recent focus. The enigmatic figures I draw are reflections of such human conditions as: wry, satire, whimsy, irony, paradox or mismatch that happens often in people’s daily lives. My figures also employ a state of motion or movement suggesting an actor/actress who narrates a story in a play.

Most of my work is created by the intaglio printmaking process. This involves etching, drypoint, softground and roulette on a copper plate. I use a four-color printing process (black, yellow, red and blue in order) on a thin Japanese Kozo (Mulberry) paper. As in the French use of technique of “Chine Colle”, I apply glue to the back of the completed work and pass it through the press with a heavier rag paper beneath.

There are small transitions in my work from time to time, and my interest is always based on the unpredictable texture that is printed from the etched surface of the copper plate. My prints explore the complex relationship of paper, ink and etched plates to describe my thoughts, as well as the relationship which occurs between figures and space to express other human experiences. I try to always investigate the maximum potential available to me as a printmaker.

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