“The color of memory”

Paul Zimmerman in conversation with Mariko Teradoko

Paul Zimmerman: How did you develop interest in art?

Mariko Teradoko: I have loved drawing since I was a child, and I used to take painting classes. The first exhibition I saw was the Paul Klee exhibition, and I vividly remember that I was impressed by the wonderful colors and composition though I didn’t quite understand them. After that, in junior high school, I met wonderful teachers to motivate myself to draw.

PZ: Have you always been an abstract artist?

MT: In order to take the entrance examination for art college, I studied plaster drawing, still life, croquis, etc. at an art research institute. I have been drawing the human body, still objects, and landscapes since I entered art college, 

but my interests turned to abstract painting. I’m especially influenced by abstract expressionism in the 1950s and 1960s. After graduating from college, I have only painted abstract works.

PZ: Where do you find the inspiration for your paintings?

MT: The idea comes from the original scenery. Mountains, rivers, seas, skies, vegetation, towns, and the people and families who I have come across there. Everything I have experienced can be an idea, and is important to me.

PZ: What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

MT: When the feelings and the work do not match. Especially when I feel getting lost, it becomes difficult to settle. So I try not to get lost these days.

In reality, I work in small atelier with some storage space for works. I think Japanese artists generally have trouble with large space. (Due to general shortage of land in Japan.)

PZ: What is your artistic process? How do you create your works?

MT: The first idea is to paint on paper and look for what is visible from there. Then I would establish my feelings and memories on it. Since the canvas work is in oil painting, I try to bring the work closer to what I feel 

by repeating the process in drawing after drying.

PZ: How do you select titles for your paintings?

MT: Since the theme is the color of memory, I don’t name the artwork very concretely. I try to name it with universality, such as “Memory Fragment” for small pieces and “Memory of (some color)” for large works, but sometimes I name it with concrete title. 

PZ: How do you know when the painting is finished?

MT: I feel like the work tells me it that it is good enough.

PZ: What is art for you?

MT: Living, living a life, and important things that are indispensable. I experienced parting with a loved one and art helped me to live at that time. Mr. Tetsuo Mizu, a painter I admire, taught me that “Art can change even a person’s life.” 

I think that art has such madness and also has a kindness that wraps around people.

PZ: What are you working on now?

MT: I am producing a series of 5 pieces of vertically long 227 x 112cm work.

PZ: How does the pandemic influence your work and sensibility?

MT: Every day I used to create new work, and it remains the same. But as I work I express condolences for the deceased and gratitude to the medical staff. When I couldn’t paint I felt at a loss. But I felt that I was given time to think about different things, unlike the days when I had created the artwork as if being chased by something for a long time.

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