What we show and what we feel do not always match. Both in real life and on social media —that is, in front of others— we show ourselves as cool as we can. We put on our best clothes, we provoke. We seek to see ourselves (and to be seen) attractive and sensual. But inside, many times we just feel lonely, sad, we want to disappear.
Asumi Kono (@asumikono) creates characters that are nobody but at the same time are all of us. This illustrator from Tokyo put these feelings, which are also hers, into a black line, minimalist but sufficient. Her drawings do not need great tricks; they make that feelings we share with her author reach us, because we also have them within us.
Intrigued to learn more about these characters, I posed Asumi these questions.
Chorareii: I want to know more about the girls you draw! Who are they?
Asumi: They look like girls but I think they are neither girls nor boys. They are just a reflection of my mind. They are not necessarily human beings, so they change shape and melt or blur.
All your characters seem very nice and cool. I would like to meet them and be their friend. Why do you think this happens to me?
I think people who like my drawings are like me. Maybe they have experienced things that I feel, so they can identify with what I do.
Your characters have a very sweet, very kawaii expression, but at the same time they show provocative attitudes; posing in a sexy way, showing their underwear, smoking … Tell me about those two faces, the kawaii and the provocative one.
Those are the two sides of my own feelings. I reflect all my feelings in them. Especially, I think I reflect my negative feelings in them.
There are times when I want to be nice to people and times when I want to hurt people. However, I’m not good at being nice and of course I wouldn’t hurt anyone in real life, so my characters do it on my behalf.
Your drawing style is very minimalist. Although sometimes you make collage or use some colors, usually you use black line on a white background. Are you influenced by traditional Japanese drawing? What can you tell me about your technique and your references?
I have been influenced by Japanese manga, such as that of the Fujiko Fujio duo and the artist Rumiko Takahashi.
5 years ago I used to draw with a ballpoint pen, but recently I use my finger to draw on an iPhone application.
Fashion is very present in your drawings. The clothes that your characters wear is very characteristic and you also use fashion brands in your drawings. What connection do you have with fashion?
Fashion is the easiest way to express myself in everyday life. I make my characters wear the imaginary clothes that I would like to wear.
I have noticed that your characters are always alone in the drawings, and some of them, as you said, are blurred or floating in the air. Their look is sad. What are they feeling?
I think my characters, like me, always have a little feeling of loneliness. They may feel that they want to disappear and be invisible.
Do you think your characters have feelings in common with the people of our generation?
I think they feel a bit lonely, just like me.
Last year you had your solo show “Genius” at the New Space PA gallery in Harajuku. What do you want to do now?
It would be nice to participate in fun projects or jobs. Offer me a project like this, I await your invitation!