JUN KUBOTA on SURF+ART
Q1. When did you first surf?
KUBOTA I surfed for the first time when I was 21 and it was in L.A., my first trip abroad. I was with a friend and a relative in the same generation as us took us to surf. It was in summer but I remember the water was extremely cold.
Q2 What do you think has changed or not changed in your art style before and after you started to surf?
KUBOTA When I went to art school, around 1980, in those time, it started to be a trendy thing for those students majoring in the design department at the art university to create fine art works, name Katsuhiko Hibino for example. So I started to paint also.
There were works of foreign illustrators introduced in magazines like Commercial Photo Magazine and I used to paint my own works being inspired from looking at those works. My paintings had nothing to do with surfing then. I liked artist like Gary Panter.
The works I showed in a group show at Gallery 21 in Ginza with Minoru Nomata and the late Takayasu Tsuchiya after graduating from the art school, were collages made of color copies of my paintings.
I worked at an advertisement company, McCann Erickson, it used to be called then. And then became a freelance CM planner and director. I didn’t get to paint those days, I would go surfing occasionally to Chiba and Ibaraki until my work life became quite unbearable and I decided to quit and moved to Kamakura, restarted my life painting and surfing.
To surf and also to paint on surfing seemed like a perfect combination!
This is something I wrote also in my picture book “Ride a wave”, but I often think about why Man is so attracted to being in the seawater where he cannot live. Ever since I started to surf and be in the sea water, I became more aware of myself as an animal.
Q3. What is the largest reason you are based in Kamakura for so long?
KUBOTA Sea. Surfing. But I don’t surf as much as I used to. I go and check the sea and if I feel like it I surf. There are so many people moving in to Kamakura and the place is losing its simple lifestyle of the earlier days. This is something Taisuke Yokoyama often talks about and I feel the same.
Q4. What was the idea behind your picture book, “Ride a wave”? Was it something you had in mind for a long time?
KUBOTA I was inspired by a famous picture book “Dawn”.
Because the theme of many of my paintings are the sea, my works tend to be blue color based. As a painter, I am interested in all colors and when I saw the picture book “Dawn” there was an ideal expression of colors. I wanted to try myself, too, on how color can speak on its own.
Q5. What inspiration has surfing brought to you as an artist?
KUBOTA There is always something about surfing and being in the sea that cannot be put into words and they become part of my work
Q6. I noticed there are often words or phrases shown aside of your paintings. When did this style start? What do words relate to your paintings?
KUBOTA Those words I chose to show with the paintings have similar quality. When I show my works at an art show, I think it’s important to add words to assist the audience. When I look at someone else’s work, there are times I cannot enter into the paintings. It’s like I am looking but I am not really looking… My words are there to show ways to the paintings.
Q7. Is there a favorite time of the day you’d like to spend at the sea?
KUBOTA Early morning and before sunset.
Q8. How often are you at the sea? Do you make sketches while you are at the beach?
KUBOTA I often take a walk to the beach and I also do some sketches. Although my sketches are usually too simple and I don’t know what I drew when I see them later!
Q9. Do you think you will consider moving to the mountains or to the city and create your art work?
KUBOTA Not to the city. For now, not to the mountains either.
Q10. Please tell us what you seek as something important in your art.
KUBOTA To continue painting is my life goal. I believe the paintings are something that gets created where our eye sights and painting ability meet. So I would like to, until the day I die, overcome all kinds of difficulties and find answers to turn what I see into paintings.