From our friends at Guernica, today we bring you A Changeless Place: Jill J. Tan interviews Jave Yoshimoto. Tan speaks with Yoshimoto, a trained art therapist and practicing artist, about his intricate and brightly rendered gouache depictions of tragedy and disaster. Yoshimoto says, “The news cycle moves so quickly; even if we read about tragedy today, we may forget about it tomorrow. I hope my work is a reminder to pay attention.” This article was originally published June 15, 2016.
Man, animal, and the elements: None are spared in artist Jave Yoshimoto’s scenes of technicolor wreckage. Outsized wildlife hint at a surreal eschatology, but a second look confirms that this is indubitably the present we inhabit, and, as disasters proliferate, increasingly our future. In the piece Evanescent Encounter, a man cleans pools of oil from the shore, under a bright red sky, as Godzilla watches haplessly from the water. An oil rig aflame in the ocean emits plumes of smoke that envelop a textual call and response: “Where would you possibly go? I am seeking a changeless place.” But no such place exists in Yoshimoto’s paper tableaux.
Yoshimoto captures cities in the aftermath of natural and manmade disasters using scale and a flat graphic style, which he characterizes as easily digestible, the better to rouse viewers to action. He bridles against a flavor-of-the-moment approach to catastrophe and disaster relief, and seeks to create an awareness of the destruction that persists in locales ranging from Fukushima to New Orleans. These are works—some small, and others monumental, as in the thirty-foot painting that captures Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami—of struggle and also of survival. Yoshimoto, a trained art therapist, means to create links of empathy—between audiences and the subjects of his pieces, and between the world and himself.