Amanda Konishi: Studio Visit
January 26, 2018 By Laura Horne
Walking into Amanda Konishi's, Meeker Street studio in Brooklyn is like transcending into a miniature gallery of works depicting a mysterious story of the life of an adventurer or travel writer turned poet. A series of stories represented splendidly and delicately on paper except for a few rare paintings on found objects and one tiny work on canvas. The traveler or adventurer left behind pieces of inspiration, a perfectly preserved and colored dried leaf, unusually shaped sticks, string, scraps of paper and cutouts with exquisite textures from far off lands. Konishi's intuition and focal point allow the viewer to follow these lines and travel fluently with them. Konishi's paintings are mostly figurative based but there are abstract elements and interesting takeaways like names of friends, tombstones, poems, cartoons and graphic elements that relate to her past career as an illustrator.
The line of a man's chin, his silhouette, an essence, a gesture. Borrowed from the face, just a line, a swooping strong line. Taken out of its circumstance and drawn over and over again until its physical form is gone and is unrecognizable in a new idea, a new line in a new circumstance in a new work. It is unrecognizable not because it doesn't hold the same shape but because of its new context. Similar to the psychological phenomenon, semantic satiation, where a word or phrase when repeated temporarily loses all meaning. A type of visual aesthetic satiation.
Konishi reuses these borrowed gestures and forms over and over in her work, an old shoe, a certain shade of ochre taken from the dried leaf, a line from a man's chin. Her works are mixed media renderings of focused flowings of consciousness. Her sketchbooks are where she begins and are very important to her as she uses them as a way to get ideas out quickly and goes back to them later when her focus needs to be recalibrated. Konishi explains, "the sketchbook is a really important part of my overall process. It’s where I do a lot of my feeling through different forms and their character, and experiment small-scale with technique. And beyond technical aspects, it is expressive and often serves as a form of compulsory meditation."
Konishi worked as an illustrator after she studied illustration and cartooning at the School of Visual Art, NY but decided to leave the world of illustration to branch out and to work free of an art director. "I grew up reading a lot of gag and newspaper strips, a few Japanese comics in my early teens, but really fell in conscious love with the medium when I discovered alternative comics around the same time I started thinking about higher education. I was drawn to SVA because it has a pretty great faculty for cartooning and illustration, and I chose illustration because I thought it sounded more viable as a career path and I knew I could still take classes with the cartooning faculty. I thought it was the best of both worlds, but my world was smaller then. Reading has always been a big part of my life as well, and I’ve always been touched by illustrated volumes," says Konishi.
Konishi's work is very focused. She was always sure of her direction which is a huge part of an artists battle. She has a formidable balance between her day job, her studio work, and her online and offline art intake. She catches opportunities as they arise and doesn't subject herself to anything that may unintentionally sway the direction of her work. Konishi will have some of her work included in an exhibition at Greenkill Gallery in March.