Junko Yoda - 2006
September 12, 2006
“The Sea”, “River Flow”, “Sky”, these are the titles that I like to use over and over again. In the early 1970s, I realized that handmade Japanese paper, which has over 1,000 years of history, can be a material for contemporary art. Since then I have worked with acrylic and Japanese paper. Recently I became absorbed in a series of “River” paintings.
Last September I went to Japan and visited two paper mills. I learned about their enormous history of papermaking. I chose and bought the most suitable handmade paper for my works out of many different kinds of paper that they made.
Most of my paintings are made by two layers: a ground or base layer and a surface layer.
In 2001, when I was working on the painting “River of Hiroshima”, I found coloring paper methods by a dripping technique (instead of painting by brushes), which excludes the subjective touch.
Usually I color the ground layer simply on the Japanese paper, which is stretched on the wood panel. For the surface layer, I do so much work:
Color the paper.
Color the paper by dripping.
Drip another color onto the paper.
Drip another color....
Repeat and repeat.
I used about 80 sheets of Japanese paper for “Hudson” and other smaller works. Then cut the paper by a pointy tool. Then tie up the paper by paper strings. Then, separate them, like innumerable tiny butterfly-shaped pieces. After all of this process is done, I paste these pieces onto the ground layer of wood panel. So, finally ground layer and surface layer together become one painting.
I made the first River painting called “Susquehanna River” in 1990-91. I was attracted by the river, which meandered through Pennsylvania. Since then I made many River paintings. Hudson River was a subject that I always wanted to work with. In my mind, “Hudson River” appeared all the way straight up on the right side of the painting. However, I didn’t have any exciting idea for the rest of the space.
When I took a plane to Japan last year, I was watching flight data on the video monitor in front of my sheet. I saw the place “Ithaca” on the flight map, I looked down from the window at an altitude of 9753 feet. I saw lakes that appeared under the window one by one. I had a strong feeling that I might have seen the Finger lakes. I thought of the empty space inside of my painting “Hudson”. I placed “Finger Lakes” on the left side of the “Hudson” painting.