As the winner of the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct’s mural competition in 2015, Go Suga’s art has been featured as both a bright and cheerful public art installation and at 19 Karen Contemporary Artspace. With his upcoming solo exhibition, Time Traveller, we spoke with Go about his unique style and becoming a part of the Aussie art industry.
INTERVIEW: SALLY O'BRIEN
My name is Go Suga and I’m a Japan born / Australia bred artist who loves surfing, my wife, my pet dog Lui and vegemite. (I have two vegemite tattoos on my arm.)
How would you describe your art style?
I would describe it as mixture of few different styles. Symbolism, surrealism, cubism, even a little pop in there because of the colours. Not sure what to call it but I sure do like looking at different styles of art and picking a few things and adding it on to create my own style.
What materials do you use to create your pieces and can you talk us through your artistic process?
I used to use posca pens for my paintings but for this new line of work, which I prepared for my upcoming show at 19 Karen, [I used] acrylic on board. It was my first time using a paintbrush and it was really fun! Self-teaching is the best way to go when it comes to art I think. Once you learn from an art class or a teacher you kinda lose that fun part when you find something new out by trying it all alone by yourself. That’s the fun part of art I think, experimenting and finding out something new that excites you. Also it’s kinda boring when technique determines the outcome. By self-teaching you develop techniques and styles that is unique to yourself. At the moment my process would go something like this:
- Surf (this is important as it gives me happy vibes which comes out as colours on canvas!)
- Figure out what I want to paint or keep note of whatever good idea comes to mind.
- Do some sketches and from these sketches choose the one I want to paint.
- Go buy board from Bunnings
- Prepare board with 2-3 layers of gesso.
- Draw outline of the painting with pencil
- Start painting.
- Create whatever colour I like to use at the time and keep it in a small jar for future use.
- Once finished I get it framed and all done!
"I definitely want people to feel happiness and peace through my art and that is the reason why I use these bright colours but the meaning behind these paintings often involves destruction, pollution and violence."
How did you become involved with 19 Karen?
I started painting seriously to get into an art gallery about three years ago. I created my own style and made about 8-10 paintings. I found 19 Karen and immediately wanted to join the gallery as they had so many awesome international and local artists. I emailed them and got a reply back from the gallery owner. She told me not to get my hopes up high but she wanted to take a closer look at my work. So I went and showed it to her and she liked it! I couldn’t really believe it, it was the happiest day of my life! Here I was just a guy with no experience in art (other than my diploma in graphic design) now represented in a professional gallery with artists that have lists of exhibition shows and award winning achievements.
What messages do you try to convey through the bright and happy colours of your art?
I definitely want people to feel happiness and peace through my art and that is the reason why I use these bright colours but the meaning behind these paintings often involves destruction, pollution and violence. I’m really liking my art at the moment because of this 'gap' between the real meaning behind the art and what’s on the surface.
You describe your work as a “mystical seamless blending of cultures,” what elements of Japan and the Gold Coast do you place in your art?
I think bright colours, sun and water elements in my paintings come from Australia and surf culture for sure. I also love ancient mythologies, no matter which country and region it’s from I get fascinated by these ancient stories. Greek mythology gods and goddess appear in my paintings a lot. These human made gods have inspired me to create my own original god characters in my paintings as well. I often use Japanese words for the title of paintings but I’m not sure if there are any other Japanese culture elements left in my work. I have definitely been inspired and affected by Japanese manga comics when I was a kid but I don’t try to put it into my art with the style I’m working on at the moment.
Which achievements are you most proud of and why?
I won first place in the Gold Coast City Council’s cultural precinct fence mural competition two years ago. I’m most proud of this because I finally had a chance to contribute back to the city that looked after me through the good and bad times since I moved to this country. To be able to do this with art was my greatest achievement so far. If there’s another chance I would like to do something for this city in the future with my art.
What is difficult about being an artist in Australia?
I’m not too sure... I can only think of all the good things. I’m only a rookie in the art industry so I can’t say much but I feel we have a really healthy art culture in Australia. For example, in Japan somebody like myself who’s not an art college graduate or has no connections would have no chance of getting into a professional art gallery, but over here you have a chance as long as you can create something unique and interesting. I truly believe the art industry should be open minded and the Australian art industry so far has been just that.
What inspires your art?
I get inspired by lot of things. Surf, nature, ancient mythologies, conspiracy theories, movies, music, pictures, patterns, well known artist’s works, not so well known artist’s works and the list goes on. Often when I sketch something interesting comes out so sometimes the best way to start your creative process is to do a few sketches, even if you don’t seem to have any inspirations. Something will come out and you will find maybe not the whole sketch interesting but some part of it, and you keep that section and add other stuff onto it. In this case, you get inspired by your own creation.
What can we expect from your solo exhibition?
You can expect colours, shapes and peaceful vibes! Also each of my paintings has a storyline which leads from one painting to another so that’s something you can read at the show to see the meaning behind my paintings. It should be a fun night!
What is your next artistic adventure?
I have a few things planned this year, one of them will be on the Gold Coast but I can’t mention it until closer to the date and also maybe another in China. My dream is to do a solo show in one of the major cities like NYC, Paris, London or Tokyo so I will be adventuring until I get to one of these places! I also like to try different styles and mediums, maybe even sculpting! Not sure right now but whatever comes to mind I guess. I won’t do it unless I really want to do it. I tend to get bored by things easily so it won’t take much time for me to start exploring other creative stuff or styles of painting.
You can catch Go Suga's opening solo show 'Time Traveller' this Saturday night May 6th at 19 Karen Contemporary Artspace, Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast.