As Junko Mizuno prepares for her upcoming joint show at Gallery Nucleus this weekend, Hi-Fructose friend and Sweet Streets founder Hi Hi Caro sits down with artist to discuss the new body of work, her exhibition partner Mizna Wada and the influence nature has had on her work. Check out the interview as well as a preview of the upcoming show, here on Hi-Fructose.
Your new show Flora Delirium is shared with Yummy Haunts by fellow artist, Mizna Wada. Is this a pairing by the gallery or is it an intentional collaboration?
It was a pairing by Nucleus. She was one of the artists I showed with at the gallery back in 2007 and it was how I got to know her. I lived in Japan then and was happy to know another Japanese artist who independently worked with people overseas.
A focal point of your Flora Delirium work is organic elements. Is there a story behind the Flora Delirium world or did this theme come naturally to you?
There’s no specific story behind it. It’s been one and a half year since I moved to US and I’m feeling settled and uplifted now. It might be the reason I felt like drawing a lot of blooming flowers… This is just an afterthought, though. I usually just go with the flow and draw what naturally come to me without thinking.
Plant life in your world seems to have a mind of its own. In Pure Trance, for example, many “trivia characters” are plants with unusual qualities. What inspires this idea?
Maybe TV shows and animations for kids? I get excited when I see personified plants, food or animals in them despite the fact I’m a grown-up nearing 40…
Organic elements and flower motifs are not new to your work. What is it about nature that fascinates you? Do you have a favorite flower or flora?
I’m very bad at growing plants, I can’t even keep a cactus alive but I’ve always been fascinated by the forms that nature creates. I often use Ernst Haeckel’s books as reference. Nature makes really crazy shapes and lines that I can transfer to my art. It’s really inspiring. I don’t have any specific flowers I like but I find carnivorous plants especially interesting.
Flowers appear everywhere in your artwork- in flowing hair, blushing cheeks, breasts, clothes, and flames. Have you always sketched and painted these motifs?
I’ve enjoyed drawing flowers as long as I remember. I used to copy the styles of my favorite Japanese girls’ comic artists as a kid and flower was a very common motif they used. I especially liked Makoto Takahashi’s [ http://www.macotogarou.net ] flowers.
[A Japanese magazine] recently wrote a feature about your favorite toys, like My Little Pony, which are “tattooed”. Why do you decorate your characters with flowers?
To make the women look more beautiful. I find skin with lots of freckles more beautiful than flawless fair skin. So I draw a lot of freckles on my characters that sometimes are flower-shaped. Tattoos are also beautiful, I enjoy both drawing and looking at them. I myself don’t have any, though, as I can’t give up going to Onsen (hot springs) in Japan…
I’m reminded of Georgia O’Keefe, who meant to express tenderness and femininity with her flower portraits but critics found them sexual. Do you find your paintings often labeled as sexual?
Yes, of course. And I don’t mind it at all.
Your 2008 collaboration with Italian fashion brand Fornarina explored floral designs, and you are releasing a Floral Delirium t-shirt. Is there more fashion design in your future?
I don’t have any plans for now. I’d love to do it again if there’s a chance in the future.
I am dying to know- what happened to the “Sweet Octopus” installation featured in the Urban Beauty show by Fornarina?
It must be stored in the Fornarina warehouse in Civitanova, Italy. They built it up again and showed it at their party earlier this year which made me happy. They are art-loving people and proud of their works they’ve done with artists. So I’m pretty sure they won’t dump the installations like trash.
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Tell us about the Flora Delirium piece you selected for a new print.
I’m actually still working on the last two paintings… We’ll decide on which one to make into a print once they are done.
Junko Mizuno’s ‘Flora Delirium’ and Mizna Wada’s ‘Yummy Haunts’ opens this Saturday, November 13th 2010 at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, CA.