Interview with Wynne Hayakawa


Neoteric Art: Give us some background information on yourself.

Wynne Hayakawa: I grew up in California. My father encouraged my interest in art, and I drew a lot as a child. I worked as a potter as a young person, and considered studying ceramics in Japan. I rejected that course as being too narrow, and instead went to graduate school in ceramics. Because I had seen Stephen de Staebler’s early work, and other environmental sculptures, clay seemed to be a way I could discuss the natural world in visual terms. I also started to paint seriously in graduate school. I switched completely to painting about twelve years ago. I wanted to make big, uninterrupted planes.

NA: You say that you “paint to raise the issues of earth, light, water, and air, and keep them in our consciousness.” Discuss further.

picture-5.jpgWH: I paint on wood, using coarse brushes and broad putty knives. The wood gives me a firmness, like the earth. Oil paint goes down in layers, like sedimentation. Solvents move pigments, in the way that water erodes the land. You can see from my language that I still think a lot about earth.

I also work from tree images, and you may see cottonwood trunks meandering through some pieces.

Recently the paintings have developed a lot of space, light and air. I seem to be painting the weather.

I paint to remind others of the natural world. I paint to raise the issues of earth, light, water, and air, and keep them in our consciousness. Fortunately for me, there is a lot of bare sheetrock in the world, and it desperately needs paintings with texture and color.

NA: Are drawing and painting harmonious for you? Discuss your overall process.

WH: I took line as my project for this year. I have been drawing in ink—with pens and brushes—on the gesssoed panels. I also sometimes incise line into the wet gesso. I use line to activate the space of the painting. I want to create places where we, the viewers, can exist for a while. This place is the visual “space” of the painting.

NA: Who and/or what are some of your influences?

picture-4.jpgWH: I grew up looking at early twentieth century painting, Asian ceramics, and African sculpture. I was in graduate school during the era of pattern painting, and my interest in craft dovetails nicely with pattern-making. I have looked hard at Cezanne. I like the Impressionist use of color, and the fact that they often take the outdoors as their subject. (I contrast them to the Cubists, whose paintings seems to be about interiors.) Twenty years ago I wanted to paint like Joan Mitchell. I was also studying Japanese calligraphy then.

Recently I got into a discussion about Hans Hofmann, and realized that I had never read his writings. When I did so, it was like a homecoming. He thought about painting pretty much the way I do, as a tension between the picture plane and the visual space suggested by color and line.

NA: Where do you see your painting taking you in the future?

WH: I just finished a group of paintings, and will now go back to a group of prints. I print monotype and drypoint onto ink and watercolor drawings. The space in these is more intimate than the space in the paintings.

As for painting, I will just push forward, with my friends–my tools and materials–and faith that something will emerge.