Joe Suzuki: Exclusive Brillo Box Release
Launching Black Friday, Guy Hepner is excited to partner with the TAX Collection to release the Brillo Box: Exclusive Limited Edition with Joe Suzuki. The sculpture will be available online through the Guy Hepner Shop on November 29th at 2pm EST. We caught up with Joe to hear about the series.
– Can you give us some insight into your original “happy accidents” series? How did you learn how to manipulate resin to create these sculptures?
I made my first Happy Accident piece back in 2011. I was hanging out in my studio and the idea just came to me to use resin in that way. I often acquire my skills by trial and error until I have my own way of doing things. A lot of what I do was never taught to me because they are unconventional and veer from the traditional academic art training. I have a BA, MA, and MFA in fine art but I learned most of what I do on my own.
– Can you tell us more about your inspiration? I know you have done a lot of work referencing Bob Ross as well as your process – who has shaped you the most as an artist?
My inspiration comes from living my life as a Japanese American, dad/husband, artist. My work is informed by my real life, contingent on my real world experience, and because of that, I tend to gravitate toward recognizable materials (ready made) and images (logos, characters, icons) that are accessible both visually and conceptually. I then reintroduce them in a new way with my unique twist.
– Your “Balloon Puppy” series is rather popular – would you say you are commenting on Jeff Koons and commercialism with these pieces? Or is this more of an aesthetic drive? The art world definitely has mixed opinions about “Ready made” objects – what is your take on this with your unique twist?
I don’t set out to communicate any specific commentaries or meanings when I make art. These things are for each viewer to decide when they have an unmediated experience with an art object. Some people see it as a commentary and some love it for the aesthetic reason. For me, I usually make something because I simply want to see my idea exist in the real world.
– You are very active with charity auctions (and charity in general) can you tell us a bit more about your drive behind this? Any particular organizations / interests you are most passionate about in regards to this?
When I came to this country, I was 12 years old and did not speak a word of English. To come from that and to be able to make a living as an artist today, is such a huge blessing, so I can’t help it but to want to pay it forward in some way. I believe art has the power to transgress boundaries, to operate as a catalyst for change, and to bring people together. I’m just doing what I can, it’s really not a big deal. But I could not donate my art the way I do if it wasn’t for all the galleries who work hard for me. So it’s a joint effort among me, my galleries, collectors, and fans. That’s how I like to think of it. Also, my wife is a special education teacher and she helps kids everyday at her job. What I do is nothing compared to what she does on a daily basis.
– As a Japanese American artist – are you inspired by Japanese culture and practices? Or is this something that does not reflect in your work? (Thinking specifically about the “Japanese Seven Lucky Gods as the Avengers” and other pieces that reference Japanese culture.
Definitely. I think of my work as products of my own particular mixed culture, which developed as a result of being an immigrant to the US during the late 80’s in my early teens. During a long assimilation process, I found myself not belonging to either culture, but rather somewhere in between, and I ultimately began to accept and celebrate my peculiar culture. I view my culture as a confluence of multiple vectors with no hierarchy or order. I am interested, both visually and conceptually, in melding and mending such notions as East vs. West, high vs. low, commodity vs. craft, tradition vs. fads, and icon vs. iconoclasm. And my Japanese background is definitely a part of that.
– Who would you say is your current favorite living artist?
I’ve always been a fan of my younger brother, Macha Suzuki‘s work. He isn’t active on social media but you can find images of his work if you Google it. We had a two-person show in LA back in 2012 and we are hoping we can do another show together soon.
– What can we expect to see coming out in the near future?
I have a two-person show coming up in April in NY so I’m preparing for that. You can also expect to see me doing more collabs with different people, perhaps non visual artists. I will also continue to donate my art to different charity groups and share my knowledge of how I make my art on my Youtube channel.