Interview: Artist James Kimura-Green from Persons of Interest Magazine / by Metropolitan Society

We've decided to release partial interview content from the first issue of our print magazine, Persons of Interest. The interview below is with artist James Kimura-Green. To read the complete interview you may purchase the full magazine issue from our online store.

"James Kimura-Green is a Japanese born artist and painter, currently living and working in Boston. He moved to the U.S. after growing up in Tokushima, then living in Tokyo until the age of eighteen. After receiving his BFA from the University of Connecticut, he went on to earn an MFA from Louisiana State while simultaneously serving as an adjunct professor at LSU. He has had numerous exhibitions in Louisiana, Connecticut and Massachusetts. James’ work is inspired by many different moments and experiences throughout his life. His 2014 thesis dealt with ideas of memory and memorial in regard to the Juhani Pallasma quote, “The geometry of thought echoes the geometry of the room.” Works reference elements of his parents’ and grandparents’ homes as he attempts to create physical manifestations of his own psychological memorials. Other works take particular moments, geometries or ideas that James then creates his interpretations of. We went over to James’ studio in the South End district of Boston to talk about his work, inspiration, past and creative philosophy." 

In your thesis you claimed to have taken a lot of influence from your “past life” in Japan. For the first eighteen years of your life you lived in Tokyo as well as in the Chiba prefecture along the Pacific Ocean. As the two are contrasting areas— Tokyo being a bustling city, and your experience in Tokushima being far more rural—how did this difference affect you?

Yeah, that house was pivotal. I’m so lucky my parents made that house. When you’re living in such a hectic city like Tokyo, at times all you want to do is get out of the city, and my parents created that opportunity for themselves. My dad ran a business out of that house. I have more memories hanging out there than I do in the city. I think, in the city you become numb. It’s like sensory overload. Our apartment was near a hospital and I would hear ambulances going by and it was whatever, just another day, you know? But the countryside, if you’re a city kid, the silence is deafening.
We were only about five minutes away from the Pacific Ocean. I remember typhoon season and the rain just bombarding the roof and that noise, how can I say it; just certainly a memory. The pitch darkness in the countryside, if you’re in the city there’s always a light somewhere. If not a street light, a window light or something. But it’s so fucking dark, it’s amazing. The silence, the noise...But then they sold that house. That is the catalyst for a lot of what I talk about in thesis. They sold it so it just became a memory hence, Memory and Memorial. So I use a lot of silhouettes of that house in some of the work. I still use it now.  As a form and as a shape I like to use it, because I miss it.

Yeah, and one of your series’ of works is called, “My House Will Have a Roof”

There’s a great quote by Finnish architect, Juhani Pallasmaa, “The geometry of thought echoes the geometry of the room.” Perhaps, the idea being that we can retain a lot more memories if it’s in a contained space. He also talks a lot about texture and surface in architecture. This aspect of surface is really important to me

What sorts of things make up your philosophy for the design of your studio? What makes your studio an inspiring work space?

I like to have good music to listen to, incense or a candle burning to smell, something nice to drink maybe. Being surrounded by the things I like to look at, at the same time making something that I like to make. So to have it all sort of tie in. Have you heard the term, Gesamtkunstwerk? It means “all-encompassing artwork.” The room all fits together, everything about it. The entire room is the artwork. From the art on the wall, to the wallpaper, to the design to the furnishings, to the silverware, everything is just one piece of artwork. I think that’s something that I’m striving for. Which seems kind of weird. “As a painter you want your work to fit some sort of mold like that?” Yeah kind of. That’s why I think a lot of the works I’m doing now are much simpler. Sometimes I lose focus and make more illustrative works but I always come back to my simpler pieces. I look at that and think that feels right. It has basic components, texture, surface, and it’s not too demanding.

Read the full interview with James Kimura-Green in the first issue of our in-house magazine Persons of Interest.