Myth and folklore blended motifs leaping on elaborately created background. Nana Funo is a Kyoto-based artist who is developing intricate layered paintings by using art materials such as clear gesso, pen-style masking fluid and dye markers, in her own way. Azito visited her at the studio where she is currently working on her new series.
The title was taken from the Arabian Nights, “One thousand and one nights”
-Could you tell us about your latest work?
I’m currently working on the series of a hundred 40″x40″ paintings, which is titled as “Full many and one nights.” It was taken from the Arabian Nights, “One thousand and one nights”. But simply it’s too hard to paint 1000 pieces. So far I decided to paint 100 pieces. Like Scheherazade in the tale, I’m imagining that my life will be spared for one day longer by making one more painting.
-Does the story have a significant meaning for your works? Every piece has power of storytelling.
Particularly painting large works makes me feel as if I am writing a long nobel. Although I can’t tell the storyline, in my paintings, many things happen together. But they’re inconsistent like dreams. In regard to current series, it becomes a sort of collection of scenes from those stories.
-Now you are challenging on the series of 100 paintings. Do you often create works in a series?
I’m not always working on series. Actually for my solo exhibition in 2012, I presented large works. But before these large paintings, I worked on series of a hundred and eight 20″x20″ canvas paintings. Maybe after big works, I feel like painting small ones and after small works, I feel like painting large ones.
Patterns are drawn with a masking fluid pen to remain black afterwards
-Your approach to painting is very unique. Could you tell us how you create your works?
I use various painting materials in my works. For example, in this new series, firstly I drew patterns and motifs with a masking fluid pen, then paint acrylics over the entire surface in dark monocolor and removed the masking fluid. Lastly I paint on patterns and motifs again with metalic color acrylics.
Another way is using dye markers. The base is created with colorful acrylics. I draw pattens and lines on it with black dye markers. Then it is covered with clear gesso, and after it dried, coated with medium. Finally I paint motifs with acrylics of silver or bronze color. Also I paint normally with oil or acrylic. When I’m doing so, usually I use small size round brushes.
-How do you get your ideas of using various materials?
When I found new items in the shop, I want to try them in a second. As for masking fluid pens, I used bottled masking fluid with brushes before. But it was bothering to clean brushes afterwards. Brushes got damaged, too. Then, one of my seniors at the university told me about pen-style masking fluid. I’m not a type who is bursting with ideas, but I keep my antenna spread out to many new things. And naturally, I can find what I need.
-At any rate, your workload would be too heavy. It must require you to paint most of the time. How do you spend your day?
I absolutely love painting. At some time in the past, I was deeply involved in painting. I was painting for nearly 20 hours a day. I skipped meals to paint in those days. Finally I lost much weight and my health. As a result, I’ve decided to keep regular hours every day. Now I get out of bed in the early evening. Then I go to Saizeriya (the one of casual dining restaurant chains) and do drawing on a notebook for 3-5 hours. After this, I come to the studio and paint until morning. I repeat the same day.
-Drawing for 3-5 hours a day?
Yes. I do it every day. I’ve been drawing for a long time. At my second year of grad school, I tried to draw on a notebook as a work of art. Since then, I’ve kept drawing on notebooks. I’m going to complete the 20th notebook soon. Also I exhibited one of these drawing notebooks at my last solo show.
-But at the show, it was in the display case, right? I suppose visitors wanted to see more on other pages.
As the show run through almost a month, I couldn’t display it without the case. But the gallery gave me a nice idea to present drawing works on iPad. So visitors could view all pages.
-My final question. What is your next project?
Now I have to concentrate on completing this series. I don’t have any exhibition plan so far, however, I would like to paint larger ones next time, such as size 50 canvas.
interviewed on June 7th, 2013, by Natsuki Niimi
This interview was done with the partnership with Tomio Koyama Gallery.