By: Y Nguyen
Kyoko Imazu is a Melbourne-based printmaker and book artist, who holds a Bachelor of Fine Art in Printmaking, a Diploma of Visual Arts, and a Certificate in Foundation Studies Art in Design and Communication, from RMIT in Melbourne. Kyoko was born in Japan and has lived in Australia since 2002. She has her first solo show in Canberra at the Megalo Print Gallery.Also, Kyoko Imazu has exhibited her work throughout the Asia-Pacific region including Bus Projects, Port Jackson Press, McClelland Gallery & Sculpture Park, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, and the Tokyo National Art Centre. Now, her work is held in collections at RMIT, Sydney College of Arts, State Library of Queensland and the National Gallery of Australia, among others.
Moving to Australia as a young adult, Kyoko Imazu reflects on her nostalgic view of childhood in Japan, intrinsic to the narrative of each work. She fondly recalls the idyllic memories of vast images of real animals combine with Yokai –ghosts and spirits that populate in Japanese folklore, which she remembers from her childhood. Even though she was convinced and scared that there were strange creatures lurking behind her or hiding in the dark corners of the house, they becomes her communication to “connect people with their own personal memories and stories” as she grows up. She writes, "Drawing inspiration from my memories, my work tells stories that can connect people with their own personal memories and stories."
Kyoko Imazu also says her first drawing was a rabbit, and her primary school art project was of rabbits. During that time, she enjoyed drawing their long ears, round tails. But, by drawing them over and over, the image of rabbit has become almost like a personal emblem and a fantasy creature for her. As the fascination in rabbits becomes stronger in her, Kyoko Imazu decides to “tell” stories of rabbits; and other Yokai creatures, through her paper-cutting books. She believes “books still hold magic that Kindle cannot provide”, which makes her become passionated of creating books.
For creating books, she starts with several drawings or collages in order to build a “story” in her book. She shares “When I make collages I search for images everywhere, mostly from my sketchbooks, often books on Japanese Yokai, science books, children books and Internet”. Even though it takes her a while to come up with drawings for each scene of the story, but once the design is finalized, then the cutting starts. Kyoko Imazu loves the physical act of cutting paper with a surgical scalpel. Her passion is so strong that “I can usually forget about everything else when I’m cutting paper”, she says.
Why does Kyoko Imazu choose paper-cutting to tell a story, not the regular storybook? She believes paper-cutting book gives an accesss to see small worlds emerging out of strips of plain paper. “It looks abstract from afar, like decorative lace, but there is a narrative upon closer inspection. It becomes quite intimate once it’s in the viewer’s hands”, as she mentions.
One of her most favourite paper-cutting book is: Rabbit Hunt . The paper-cutting pages – or the story begins by showing people trying to catch rabbits with nets and ferrets. A group of small rabbits attacks a hunter while another hunter with dogs is pointing at the group, seemingly trying to set his dogs on the rabbits. Some rabbits are caught, but the rabbits fight back by turning themselves into a Cerberus-like creature. It ends with a large rabbit roaring against a machine-like structure.