Hidetaka Suzuki paints an array of topics ranging from food, portraits, random objects and scenes that he discovers online. After collecting images on a daily basis and building up an archive, Suzuki intuitively is drawn to objects or scenarios that have an uneasy, human and stimulating quality to them. Often the images are manipulated digitally to remove any context or redundant information, abstracting the original meaning. Suzuki contemplates the circulation and perception of images online, and how they are translated through the painting and documentation process.
Foreign substance, 2022, Oil on canvas, 116 x 91 cm © The Artist
Kelly Foster – Your work deals with ideas surrounding fiction and nonfiction.
Hidetaka Suzuki – I search for images on the internet and paint them. The paintings are tangible and real, but the actual content is not. It’s nonfiction, similar to images on the internet.
KF – How do you select the images online? Do you have specific topics or types of images that you look for?
HS – I paint lots of objects and portraits. I look for images that remind us of actual objects but somehow look new.
KF – I think what gives them an unusual quality is their lack of context. There is no specific location or identity.
HS – The images are intentionally chosen and I remove any redundant information from the image.
Gaze, 2022, Oil on canvas, 91 x 72 cm © The Artist
KF – Do you intentionally remove the context because you want the viewer to project their own meaning onto those images and objects?
HS – Yes, I want the paintings to be able to take on multiple meanings. I draw from a specific image but I want the meaning to remain as abstract as possible.
KF – What gives an image that unusual quality to it?
HS – I tend to look for objects that aren’t usually depicted in paintings or even photographs. It’s not something that would be considered attractive or cool.
KF – So you look for mundane objects?
HS – Yes, the objects aren’t interesting in themselves but they are difficult to find already depicted in paintings.
Can’t see directly, 2022, Oil on canvas, 130 x 97 cm © The Artist
KF – In that sense, the work feels very much like still life painting because you remove their original context. You also play with scale, and take a small object and depict it on a large scale.
HS – I don’t base the scale on the size of the object, rather I paint the actual image of the object and the image that I have in my mind.
KF – So there is a mental translation between the image that you see online and the way you perceive the scale of the image in your mind, which then determines the size of the painting? That feels very meta, since then we are exhibiting the paintings back on the internet.
HS – Yes, I’m happy you digested those concepts in that way, because I’ve been thinking a lot about the actual circulation of the works. They feel complete once they are back on the internet.
KF – I was wondering about the different themes of your paintings. You paint animals, food, vehicles, portraits and different objects. How do you define these topics? What is your process for finding images online?
HS – I don’t have a specific topic that I search online. I collect images on a daily basis and then I look through my collection and search for images that feel unusual. There are certain topics that repeat, like food or objects that have some human quality to them.