Sunday, August 28, 2011

Shuji Usui - Painting/Drawing

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Featured Artist
Reception Friday 9/2/2011 7-10
Show runs through the end of September

Name: Shuji Usui
City/State: Minneapolis, MN
Facebook page:

I was born in Nagano in Japan and finished college degree in Fukushima and worked as a salaryman in Tokyo, I was one of the many saralymen who stood in an overcrowded Tokyo subway for two hours every morning and evening wearing business suite. Then I decided to study mechanical engineering in United States. I like studying mathematics and physics. United States appeared to me as the center of science and technology. I went to Northwestern University in Illinois. My dissertation was about mathematical representation of arbitrary discontinuities within a deformable continuum in the age of computational science. I moved to Minnesota since then I have been working as an engineer, at same time I started taking non-credit fine art classes at MCAD.

Nuclear Plant

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
I have been making Fukushima nuclear disaster series. Fukushima nuclear disaster changed my perception as 9/11 did. There are various different ways to look at this world. Upon Fukushima I have a view of an engineer also I have reminiscences of Fukushima and then finding out myself watching YouTube and Ustream videos in my home in Minnesota. I did research on nuclear reactor on web and looked around thousands of devastated landscape photos on web. I was looking for an answer for “what is this all about?” My reality was torn and shredded. Our reality has strong tendency of retreating into calculated comfort and narcissism. We fabricate illusions endlessly and this will often constitute our reality. It appears to me making the drawings is the way which I can come closer to the reality of the world, and question the illusions.

Nuclear Reactor

"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?
In my opinion, there is some sort of truth or reality which only represented in the format of paintings or drawings rather than linguistic expression or video. Current days general consumers spend their time watching TV or playing video games rather than looking at “Art”.

The period we live is quite different from the period in which Goya was depicting brutal bullfight and cruelty of French troops in his etchings. In our period, people become to know bullfight by watching reality TV shows, become to know the wars by watching CNN or Fox News. Video and photos are dominant media of this world. It is difficult to find a person who rely on his or her reality on looking at “Art”. In my opinion “Art” is pushed into near death status. Audiences were taken over by the entertainment and the fashion industries.. “Art” was put into the situation such that “Art” was forced to transform itself into a commercial decoration or an entertainment. Maybe only it can survive only within academic institutions.
Pile of Junks

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
I always appreciate honest and brute critiques. Otherwise I would plunge into my personal egotistical world. Our communications are often driven by calculated comfort and expectations, and dominated by the social order. Moreover we have strong tendency of neglect others. It is always difficult to find a friend who give me honest and brute critiques. In practice, I have a private teacher who give me honest critiques and guidance.
Beside communications with the individuals, I like reading books. Right now I am reading Mikhail Bkhtin. His notions of carnival and polyphony give me an insight into “Art”.

Tell me about your work space and your creative process.
I do not have such as a dedicated studio. I paint and draw in a room where I live. And those rooms are chaotic mess all the time. Sometimes foods and paintings are sitting next each other.(This is not healthy.) I have inclination of mess. I feel something important things are hidden in mess and chaos. “Chaos is mother of universe” that is what Greek mythology told us.

Conveyor System

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

Dana O'Malley

I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?

Northern Spark
Gallery 13
Minnesota Center for Book Arts
-I like books.

Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
Altered Esthetics
Opening Reception Friday, September 2, 2011 - 7pm-10pm


What can we expect to see from you in the future?
In the mist of the economic crisis, the world we live is becoming unstable as if eve of WWII. Riots broke out in London while I was writing this interview. What we have been attracted to were the myth of endless rising home prices, cheap Chinese merchandises and the war against Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden. We are not able to get out of comfort of cheap goods and fascination with celebrities, while the government is piling up the debt. -This is something I want to capture.

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