We welcome Yukari Kaihori, our new artist in residence.

Yukari has just joined us for a 3 months residency at 30upstairs which will end with an exhibition in December. She’s been here a few days now and we wanted to introduce her to you.

In her proposal for the residency, Yukari wrote about her inspiration:

My baby-chair was always facing the dining table and across the table was the classic oil painting on the wall. I didn’t see the painting after we moved to different cities but I can still remember the yellow kowhai tree painting. This memory empowers me somehow although it was probably not the intention of the artist to create that response. The yellow tree gleams like a torch in my memory.

Yukari 2

Somewhere between the Spring and Winter III, 2015. Oil on paper.


Can you tell us about your practice and your process?

I wasn’t always conscious of being a painter because it’s a language that came naturally to me. When I was in my last residency in Vermont I suddenly noticed that only a handful of people around me were painting and I started questioning why I do. I remembered childhood memories, positive and emotional memories that seemed to be paired with images in my mind. In past work I’ve used photographs I had taken previously to inspire my paintings as a way to recreate the experiences associated with the photos.


This Land is All We Know, 2014. Oil and thread work on canvas

What do you aim to achieve through your residency at 30upstairs? 

I would like to use the residency to expand on the ideas behind my process and explore further my fascination in how images are read in different ways.  Everyone sees their own interpretations in any visual material but I’d like to work on making certain themes more visible in my work to draw associations I’m interested in.

To start with I’m experimenting by painting on different surfaces, like this vintage wallpaper which I haven’t used before. I’m not sure where this exploration will take me but wallpaper is something that reconnects me to childhood memories because of its domestic association; and when I was applying for the residency I was also intrigued by the 30upstairs rooms which seem very residential.

blog photo

Both natural and man-made landscapes are prevalent in your work. What are they inspired from?

I recently shifted from using my own photographs as inspirations to asking my family to send me photos of my own childhood. When they arrived, they looked completely different to what I remembered. Through my paintings I’m trying to reconstruct the narratives of those photographs by merging imagination and truth.

Born in Japan and growing up living in Asia, Brazil and the United States, Yukari has always been interested in the notion of home. She graduated with a BA in Studio Art from Oregon in 2004 before moving back to Japan where she worked and exhibited for 5 years before heading to New Zealand.

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