June 7, 2012
Gage and Senekt
In March, artist and resident blogger Gage Hamilton went to Tokyo for his first international solo show with Hellion Gallery x AMP. Always keen to tap into the creative scene, Gage caught up with a few major talents from the world’s largest metropolis to find out what drives them to create.
When I met Senekt, I knew of him as a prolific member of Tokyo’s live painting scene. Known for frequent collaborations and ephemeral paintings in loud environments, his work was not like most artists I encountered in Tokyo. As it turns out, I timed my trip shortly after he decided to move away from live painting in favor of more thoughtful and deliberate studio work. I caught up with him about what it’s like to make that shift.
Your style of painting seems to be a bit different from a lot of what I’ve seen here in Tokyo, it seems like you have a heavy abstract expressionist influence but with some touches of graph writing stylings. How did you come to develop that style?
I was influenced by graffiti a lot when I was about 14 or 15, but now my interests have shifted more towards details in nature, like maybe textures on tree trunks or things like that.
That’s a big shift. So are you more interested in nature than urban aesthetics, or do you aim to combine the two?
It is not that my interest shifted from urban aesthetic to nature. I am still inspired from various things in the city, but I find myself more frequently moved by nature. It makes me want to paint when I’m moved. I like to observe details in nature, details of sceneries or trees, leaves, and rocks. Most of my works are abstract. I find a lot of ideas for them when I focus on the details of nature.
I know you have done a lot of live painting, when did that become an interest of yours?
I started doing live paintings in 2007. When I was 13 I went to a club and saw 3 painters doing a live painting battle and it really inspired me to get involved in it myself. This year I’m stepping away from that method of painting though.
Why is that?
For the last two years, I painted live three times a week. I tried not to repeat painting similarly, so I forced myself to try something new each time. I like live painting because it is a spontaneous action, more like a performance. I enjoy that aspect of it, but now I’m more interested in spending time on a canvas and finished paintings.
Would you say your aesthetic has changed since moving away from live painting?
I haven’t recognized distinctive changes yet, but I apply the energy required for live painting to my studio works. When I work in my studio, there is no audience. I don’t have to worry about performance and time limits. I am enjoying spending time on my works right now.
How long do you spend on a painting now as opposed to a live painting?
About a month or two. The longest live painting I’ve done was 5 hours.
Live painting is something we don’t see a lot of in America, but it seems fairly prevalent here in Tokyo. It seems similar to comparing live DJ sets versus writing an album. Does the environment in a club versus a studio influence the outcome of the work?
There are differences. In a club music is usually super loud, canvas is larger, people are watching, time is limited, and I often drink. It gives me certain excitement when I paint at a club environment. It results in more gestural and quick brush strokes, unexpected drips of paints in both good way and bad way, and so on.
My current works are not influenced from live painting, but my style has evolved from that. Now, I’m usually by myself drinking coffee. I can lay my paintings flat in my studio, so I can get more effects that I would not be able to get with live painting. I enjoy both, but for now I prefer my work to be more deliberate.