I am a contemporary Japanese artist born and raised in fringe of Tokyo, Japan, where it is still considered as urban but also surrounded by small nature, fields and gardens, shrines and temples. My introduction to academic fine-art practice was in 2010 in Tokyo. From the initial stage, I was extremely fascinated and intrigued by the traditional mediums, the artworks, and the artists. It became one of my goals to create something that is new in aesthetics, in concepts, or in perspectives, by employing not only new but also the traditional mediums, methods, or stationeries used in people’s everyday life but rarely seen in fine art. Based in NYC, I work on different mediums. Whether if it was a drawing, or a painting, or an installation work, my work is always related to nature and human mind. I want to create art that is like a specimen of a unique creature.
My work is created primary for aesthetic value and its own apparent meaningfulness on its own terms. I have always set out to create something purely visually beautiful and It has to serve no practical function.The unique independent reason for existence of fine art is of significance to me, and has inspired me to create something purely visually moving. My work is sensual, affecting the mind, emotions, dreams, and the individual. Beauty is like war in that it has a strong impact on our mind, only it is not destructive.
My art comes from a place of pluralism, or something close to the idea of being “between and both.” I see many problems in the world, and I think it is maybe because we are still living based on the premises of dualism and monism. I have a fear of the simplification that is offered with the convenience of living a modern life. I have a fear in the ignorance of the technology, that which makes life so easy but which I neither made nor know the fundamental structures of. Reflecting the aspect of the world, I started to utilize optical illusions or clichés in my creation, to make work that gives totally different impressions of something that at first appears simple. Complication is what matters, and imagination is the beauty of being born human, and freedom of the mind is a unique human trait, and they should not be taken for granted.
My work will let the audiences experience the state of mind of complication, vagueness, and different perspectives, instead of discussing about each problems I see and or experience, and that is my goal.
There are many pressures and restrictions in our society, and it is difficult to confront the truth and meaning from the inside. What happens in society makes me believe that outside of the laws that are inflexible and man-made, free of the pressures of societies or governments, or any kind of restrictions or rules, is where I and we need to be, using instead own judgment and sense of justice to think and act. Many of the figures in my work are closing their eyes or staring us and the world; whether they are dreaming or awake, they are facing the truth and themselves free of any great power that is unavoidably presented in front of their eyes.
-Natsumi Goldfish, 2015
Little more about my life
It is my lifelong challenge to keep creating as a Japanese artist who was born and grew up in Japan in a Japanese family, surrounded by only Japanese people and language, law, shared sense, culture, and tradition and as someone whose life and whole world was once completed in one's motherland.
I grew up in a city of Tokyo, it was the fringe of Tokyo surrounded by Japanese people, Japanese culture and believes and nature in Japanese community. While Japan is made with influences of other countries which I did not know, my world was peacefully completed within Japan without physically being exposed to its outside, and it was a whole big world to me.
In a country where majority of people were Japanese, I grew up seeing and noticing differences in details of individuals, rather than seeing visually bold differences between different races, ethnicities, or groups of people. There were always similarities and differences between anything that I encountered. Growing up I always felt some harmony that I wanted to and should have maintained, but also being alienated, isolated, compared, judged, divided within such a very specific and small community, which I realized that it was big yet small, only after I moved to the outside. Majority is minority in another place. The environment I grew up has raised me to believe in and accept the existences of opposites for anything. It was only natural for me to believe in pluralism or something close to the idea of being between and both. The small island-nation has been strangely different from the rest of the world, both good and bad, and that is origin of my inspiration and my urge to create something eccentric and unconventional yet purely visually beautiful and meaningful to our mind.
In Japan, I have seen and experienced many problems and frustrations, some of which are unique to the country, but many of them I believe are universal. I think those problems exist maybe because we are still living based on the premises of dualism and monism. I feel it might change if we engaged with complication and ambiguity more often without forcing them to change. This is why I utilize optical illusions, clichés, and imagination in my creations combined with reality, to make work that gives totally different impressions of something that at first appears simple. A life has a beginning and an ending, it is simple and beautiful for any living creature, but it becomes more complicated as we realize things… and that is the beauty of being born human. Freedom of the mind is a unique human trait, and it should not be taken for granted. I have a fear of the simplification that is offered with the convenience of living a modern life. I have a fear of the ignorance of the technology, that which makes life so easy but which I neither made nor know the fundamental structures of. I feel as society develops and stagnates, our individual inner lives become less unconditionally essential elements to the world. But truth is, everything is complicated and integrated yet it is simple at the same time, and everything is connected to everything else, from past to now to the future, from good and bad, from Japan to China to America to their farthest country, and from politics to pop-culture to art.
There are many pressures and restrictions in our society. It is often difficult to confront the truth and meaning from the inside. What happens in society makes me believe that outside of the laws that are inflexible and man-made, free of the pressures of societies or governments, or any kind of restrictions or rules, is where I need to be, using instead own judgment and sense of justice to think and act. Living outside of my own country as an outsider helps me to learn and understand my country more from different perspectives, and it gives more meaning to what I make as who I am, as an outsider, as a minority, as an individual, as an asian, as a Japanese, as female, as a majority, and as a human. By observing society and depicting human nature at a distance, my goal is to deliver perspectives of things that are relatively unknown, unrealized, hidden, prohibited, or forgotten, but are nevertheless present within everyday life.
My creation is based on my interests in human behavior: gestures, actions, and habits that derive from conscious and unconscious states of mind. I am intrigued by human as a unique creature that lives and dies for its mind, imagination, and creations. Human behaves somewhat similar yet different from other creatures. There are things only people do, and problems only people have. There are things only other animals do, and ways only other creatures know, that sometimes I feel that perhaps we can learn from. Our innate traits are formless and invisible, and some of them seem to be fading away from our gene. I want to know what defines us as humans, apart from other creatures and rest of the world. I feel you and I are the same human being. I belong to you, and you belong to me, and we belong to the same place. But it is difficult to explain how and why compared to the differences between us. In today’s society, people are still focused on differences first. We are trying to see every differences we can find. What is better or progressing is that now we are trying to accept and embrace them. When, however, there is a difference, there is minorities. Minorities can vary, but for instance, people who is not the majority, or people who cannot accept something when majority of people are receptive. If we see the similarities first, we do not divid ourselves. It is then not necessary to overcome differences because they are just fruits from a tree.
From very early age, I believed that nothing on the earth is the same. Everything is unique and different from one another, even the factory manufactured goods. So to me, what we are doing seemed like an endless chasing of differences between different things. We are constantly finding differences and trying to accept or deny them. Everything can be similar if we know how to see, I think this part of human nature has room for growth, yet we must also stay remembered that things are all different. In Japan I learned how people are good at finding differences, and I also realized that my eyes are trained to find differences between people and things that have surrounded me, friends, between wild flowers of same species, between local temples, between factory made teddy bears, between ants, butterflies, or flogs. Humans have inborn ability to find differences between two objects of any kinds. We are also trained in our society to make use of the inborn abilities. I started to be interested in similarities between humans, and also what humans and other creatures share in common. Everything on this earth is unique and different, but to see that we have to be able to observe the inside, and my work is all about that. I believe balance is a solution to many things and my job is to visualize our inner qualities in front of our eyes.