Berlin-based artist Hiroyasu Tsuri blends the metaphoric inspiration of Haruki Murakami’s narrative landscapes with the rhetoric of street art in a manner that is disarmingly effective. More commonly referred to as ‘Twoone’, Hiroyasu began his artistic journey in Yokohama, Japan, and gained notoriety within the Australian street art scene in 2004.
His large scale works dominate once vacant wall spaces in Melbourne, and elucidate a beautiful exploration of personal emotion, wanderlust and the transience of life in contrast to its city context. The subject within his work varies from stylised epistemological landscapes to human-animal hybrids, through which he conveys spiritual resonance and power. His technique, colour composition and balanced subject matter all reveal an evolving style, yet the effect remains distinct.
Twoone’s evolving stylistic direction sets him apart from his street art contemporaries, as it focuses on the journey of adaptability over technique and execution. Landscapes and hybridised animals are two repetitive themes in his work, serving as key elements in an ongoing exploration the artist cites as both physiological and metaphysical.
Attention to the natural order and the need to contort it creates an interesting tension in Twoone's work, all the more matched with stark lightness to painterly application and bold colour choices. I caught up with the artist himself to talk painting, literature, travel and his career as an established street artist.
Let’s start with an obvious one: how do you go about locating a site for a new piece of work? Does it happen spontaneously?
If you’re talking about legal walls, then it all depends on the project. Sometimes I get commissioned by a private owner, organisation or community. I sometimes just find a wall by myself or with friends. This usually happens when I’m actively looking, or when I’m out on an evening walk. So I guess it sometimes happens spontaneously, by chance or with preparing and planning.
Who would you say are your main artistic inspirations?
It really changes with time. I can say that I initially got into graffiti by looking at the works of the Japanese writer Yokohama. Also people like Esow, Suiko, QP and Ootake Shintrou I can attribute to being artistic inspirations after reading Yokohama’s work.
Do you have any favourite materials/mediums which you use in the production of your work?
I like working with lots of different material. To be honest, I get bored with doing the same things over and over again, so I don’t have one favourite medium. I like the process of discovering new materials and it’s always fun and challenging to try new things. When I play with new materials I try to enhance their strengths rather, so I’ll change my style depending on the mediums I’m using. I think that this way allows me to discover new styles and working methods within my work in an organic way.
What would you say has been the highlight of your career as an artist?
Every time I do something new feels like a highlight to me, but if I had to pick one highlight, I guess painting a piece on the 13th floor of a building in Hong Kong while hanging from an abseiling rope was pretty epic. That was for a project I did in collaboration with another artist named Shida. It was very physically challenging, but thrilling. Having my art displayed at the National Gallery of Victoria was also a pretty good one to have on my CV.
How do you go about planning a new work of art?
Usually I plan new work as I experiment with new materials. Sometimes I sketch, paint, sculpt or just do! I think that trying to plan everything doesn’t really work for me all the time. I mean, how do you plan things when you are trying to create things you haven’t really seen before? You have to step into it, take some action and react to what is going on. It seems to be easier for me this way.
The beautiful light lines in your larger scale works remind me of Japanese ink drawings. Having been born in Japan, would you say that any of its culture has influenced on your work?
I guess where I am from, where I’ve grown up and where I live inevitably influences my work because my work is a reflection of myself as a person. But I don’t really pay attention to how things influence my work. My focus is to create something new, at least something I haven’t made or seen before. But yes, you can say that the balance, composition and attitude of my work may have a Japanese essence. But I think that is something the viewer can decide for themselves.