Kinu Kamura began her career in art by pursuing studies at the Atelier de Sèvres, followed by a foundation course at Parsons New School of Design in Paris and went on to graduate from Central Saint Martins in London in 2011. She has always been drawn to the uncluttered, hard and understated aesthetic inspired by Minimalism, Arte Povera and the Mono Ha movements but her own practice is orientated towards an explosion of colour. Gradually her work with colour merges with interrogations into form and, over time, the interplay of these two components makes for a perfect exercise in composition.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? Why did you choose to study in several different schools?
Following my foundation at the Atelier de Sèvres, I joined the Parsons school in Paris and stayed there for a year. I had the idea to carry on studying in New York and wanted to transfer to a partner school during the academic year but, in the end, I decided on London and Central Saint Martins. It was a really rewarding experience because I was able to take advantage of a more conceptual and liberal artistic schooling than would have been the case in an American institution. In Europe, the approach to art, in education at least, is very different to the approach in the States. That’s predominantly why I wanted to try them both.
What does being an artist – and especially a young artist – mean for you?
For me, being an artist is about having the ability to create and produce a really precise idea. The next step is about sharing and communicating the idea and then to be able to make it your life so that you never stop creating. Being a young artist is, above all that, about being your own agent.
La tête dans Soulages © Kinu Kamura
Do you remember the first work you ever made? Have you kept it?
It was a small oil on canvas. It must have only been about four or five coloured lines applied with a knife onto the white background. I was very young when I did it and I remember that my parents had taken me to see a Kandinsky retrospective. After the exhibition, I tried to paint "like him". I think I kept it.
Have you had the opportunity to share a studio with another artist? Can you tell us anything about the experience?
The only shared studios I have been in were at the various art schools I attended. At Central Saint Martins we were in an open space for the 3D work and it was a brilliant shambles, and a cool one at that! Everyone’s ideas intermingled and it made for a very convivial atmosphere.
Venice © Kinu Kamura
What themes do you address in your work? What role does colour play in your production?
I would say that, for a few years now, my work has undergone a sort of "aesthetic mutation". My figurative and dreamlike landscapes transformed into coloured geometric shapes and colour "motifs". My work on simplifying forms became linked with experiments in colour and then it turned into something more focused around composition. I really try to exploit the artistic, pictorial and visual potential of colour and composition. Colour is something which is very present in my production and it is just as important an element as everything else. It builds my compositions and brings harmony and balance.
Is experience essential in creation?
I don’t think that technique is indispensable in creation. However, what is paramount is that the work is accomplished, considered and professional.
An exhibition – in a gallery or museum – that you enjoyed?
Anselm Kiefer at Centre Pompidou: his monumental canvases are astounding. Another one that comes to mind is the Musée Picasso which only recently re-opened its doors and which made a real impression on me. But I find it impossible to say exactly what I like about his work. It’s the whole package: the personality, his work and his past fascinate me.
Do you have a favourite or a lucky piece of equipment? Your first ever paintbrush, for example?
No. I take care of my equipment but that’s about it!
Bel-Air © Kinu Kamura
What would you choose: fame for work you don’t have faith in or obscurity and pride in your production?
Neither. You need to know how to be flexible in your work without becoming a hypocrite. I think it is very difficult, if not impossible, to create work which you don’t have a shred of interest in.
A work to see before you die?
I would like to have the chance to see a work by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, especially one of the "Valley Curtain" or "Wrapped Coast" projects. I really regret not having travelled to Lake Iseo to see the recent work, "The Floating Piers".
Can you define art in a few words?
Gritty, intransigent and inspired.
If you hadn’t become an artist, what would you have done?
Cooking! A love of cooking and sharing food has been passed down to me from my dad and I intend to pass it on when I get the chance.
Text and interview by Lisa Toubas