"ART IS LACK. AND I NEED TO FILL IT WITH AN OBSESSIVE, SENSUAL, OBSCENE PASSION, UNTIL IT REFLECTS WHAT BURNS WITHIN ME."
Japi Honoo (born in 1968) holds great meaning to the self-taught artist from Osimo, Italy. She works in the field of digital art and photo manipulation. And who maintains her anonymity to give more focus to her poetic style. A pseudonym name that was born in 1999, when she was in charge as assistance in an American MacroMedia newsgroup for the web design software "Fireworks," where she started making the first graphic compositions but they were not suitable for that purpose. Later, the meeting with a Dutch artist helped her to understand and use Photoshop and photography and from there she started to express herself artistically. Each of her creative phases, starting from photomanipulation, passing to geishas to get to the Holes series and arriving at the lines corresponds exactly to precise moments in her life. A path of knowledge through the art of her true self. And for decades, she has impressed critics and connoisseurs with how a "Western" artist can paint as a "Japanese.” A "Western" celebrating eroticism and delicately handling the subject of sexuality, in all of us, without dogmas or stereotypes.
'Honoo' means Flame in Japanese; the burning of her passion and instinct. 'Japi' a diminutive for Japan; cause of the love she carries for Japanese tradition, which, in a nutshell, it all comes to "Japanese flame."
Despite the era we live in, anything sex related can sometimes be seen as taboo. And suddenly here is Japi Honoo, who deliberately introduces us to the concept of sexuality in such a sacred manner. Through Honoo’s art, we are exposed to another aspect of sensuality where one is left thinking, is this what sex is really about? Is suddenly grasping an understanding that this great force, this magnificent energy, this intense desire is just an expression of creation itself, resulting in the merging of two individuals who simply get lost in a moment where time and space cease to exist. And all that matters is that fulfillment that can only be felt when your soul is left at someone else’s disposal. Through her art, Honoo honors the sacred sexual energy that ignites what is to be. And you are simply left with a deeper sense of understanding -of comprehending a truth that often lies hidden within.
Q. Why did you decide to become an artist?
A. It was not a decision but a process, a path. Creating is the only thing that makes me happy and fulfills me. Being an artist is my way to live, move, talk, breath.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. Drawing always fascinated me and I started as many do, at my young age. Creating was and still is my need. Each time I admired a painting at a museum or photographs in books, my desire grew and demanded me to create my very own.
Q. Who are your biggest influences. Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. There are many; however, I think what mostly influenced my artwork is Shunga literally, "spring pictures,” it was a Japanese drawing in woodblock prints representing erotic and sexual scenes. My favorite and best representation of Shunga for me is Kitagawa Utamaro with his beautiful women or courtesan of the 1790s. Then all his pupils like Kikugawa Eizan, Keisai Eisen, Tomioka Eisen. I am passionate about the rawness in the drawing of Egon Schiele, you can feel his strong vision of life. John Singer Sargent makes portraits, but I found him very powerful on how he catches the soul of his character. Another is illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, I enjoy his very grotesque yet simple style. There are also a lot of photographers I enjoy very much (top list): Mapplerthope, the capacity to see bodies or objects in a sensual and minimalistic way - Saudek and Araki for transforming real and raw life moments into a beautiful melancholic erotic way.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. I would say, it is when people know you, by just looking at your artworks without having to look at the signature.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. It is lonely because of the way I interpret and value life, and it is often very different from the vision and interpretation of others. Therefore, I prefer to have few friends that accept me for who I am. I often counteract it by being present at exhibitions, a good chance to meet with artists and exchange opinions, ideas, and similar inspirations.
Q. What does your work aim to express?
A. My work explores and expresses erotism. An important subject in a relationship and all that it could mean. The connection and the old language of body expression. Art is a necessity for me to relieve some "lack" that I feel. I draw on a black background because, to me, it represents the womb and the void where everything is creating, and where everything starts. To me, the color Black is not emptiness but the revelation of the senses of thoughts, feelings, and touch.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. One only: be honest with yourself about what you feel in that instant and create. Beauty and elegance is part of it.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A. There is a famous quote by Bruce Lee: "Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Be water, my friend"
Q. What advice would you give to the next art-generation?
A. Create without thinking about marketing, but mainly because you need to express yourself. We need more vision, passion and less attention towards the art market and what's selling at high ranks.