Artist in Focus: Kouichi Tabata
The end of the year is upon and and with it another installment of 'Artist in Focus.' This time AES members Carolina and Piotr talked with the Japanese visual artist Kouichi Tabata. In the interview, Tabata talks about his inspirations, shares his experience living in Berlin and offers a sneak peek of his upcoming project.
Kouichi Tabata is a Japanese abstract artist. Born in Tochigi in 1979, he graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan's most prestigious art school, in 2004 and subsequently obtained a Master of Arts degree in 2006. He has held solo exhibitions all around the world, including London, Beijing, and Fitzroy, Australia. He spent 2011 and 2012 on art residencies in Berlin. You can see his works at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, the Toyota Art Collection in Aichi, Japan, as well as on his instagram.
AES: Who is your favorite artist?
Tabata: There are so many that it is hard to pick just one, but today I would go with Paul Cézanne.
Among your own works which one do you like the most?
I have no particular favourite when it comes to my works either. I like them all, and at the same time I dislike all of them in some way, I suppose.
You’ve exhibited all around the world, in Australia, Germany, and Thailand among others. Do you think that people with different cultural backgrounds interpret your art differently? Do you ever feel a cultural barrier exists and affects the way your art is perceived?
I think it is natural that there are different interpretations and I actually believe those very differences are the most interesting part of art criticism. However, there seem to be certain stereotypes associated with Japan and Japanese culture that prove a hindrance to freely interpreting my art.
Based on your own experience, how is contemporary art perceived in Japan?
Compared with the past, I think contemporary art is becoming more widely recognized in Japan. Recently, artists of a younger generation than mine seem to be more and more active and there are increasingly more opportunities for them to exhibit their art.
Do you think the way people interact with art has changed because of the virus and the repeated lockdowns? In Germany, for instance, virtual exhibitions have been on the rise.
I think that the virtualization of art, that movement towards exhibiting on the Internet has increased the public’s longing for something real, something that has texture, as opposed to something that is purely digital.
To which degree did your life away from Japan influence your art?
j My works are often born out of my personal experiences, so what Japan?w has chaFocus.since I started to incorporate my daily life in Germany here into my works. I used to live in Tokyo and it's completely different from Berlin. I think it's great seeing people in Berlin relaxing and enjoying their lives, having picnics in the park etc. I hope to incorporate what I discover in my life abroad into my work, while at the same time keeping my Japanese sensibilities.
Are there any countries that are of particular interest to you? In which country would you most like to exhibit your works next?
There are many countries in Europe that I haven’t traveled to yet, and I hope to visit them one day. As for in which country I would like to exhibit – anywhere in the world if I could.
Can you tell us a bit about your future plans? So one day our readers can visit one of your exhibitions?
Probably next year, in 2022, I will be participating in an exhibition by Yoko Andersson Yamano, a craft-based glass-artist and a tableware designer based in Stockholm. European and Japanese artists will receive glassware from her and then draw a picture of it. The pictures will subsequently be exhibited together with the glassware. The event has been postponed due to the coronavirus, but you can find the details at: