Artist Mr. Shun Ogue

I met one of the young artists who exhibited his paintings in the art gallery named “kokonoka”.  His mild and gentle character is shown on his paintings through shapes and colors. I interviewed this young artist, Mr. Ogue.

Can you tell me the background story majoring in oil painting at Tokyo University of the Art?

Both of my parents worked for the field related to design and I was strongly influenced by them. I loved drawing when I was a child, and I have joined the drawing class since I was in the kindergarten. Later, I joined the LEGO class and made an electric motor car. This class taught me engineering knowledge. Since I grew up actually touching a lot of different things with my hands but not going to the museums just to see the arts, the person who influenced me the most was Mr. Wakuwaku by NHK.

When I was at the art prep school before attending the undergrad, they taught me a sense of creating a space realistically. This sense did not match to my sense exactly. I learned oil painting later, and there was something that fits into my sense because of its liberal texture and subject matter. It is not drawing a thing but making an expression of picture plane, so it is a lot closer to the sense of communication with a painting.


It seems like there are many pieces incorporating music and space into your arts. Where do you get this influence?

As for music, I was not able to find music that I would love to repeat in my brain before. Therefore, I started composing myself. For me, music and art are connected on the bottom line, and I love making something myself.
As for the color, more I draw, it becomes more white.  I guess white must be my favorite color. As for the shape, I want to draw the other side of things. That is why outline is fading out lately.
I am not good at the relationships maintained only on the surface. When I am seeing the core, I feel like alive. Even though there are no shapes but there is something that I can recognize. This sense is a part of the feelings, and I think it is very important when I draw.

Painting is liberal as if it is like a creature.  Unlike other creation medium, you can stop looking at the paintings only a second. I like this freedom. Depending on the person who looks at the painting, the explication will be changed freely. The artists entrust the explication to the audience. Therefore, I draw paintings which can listen to the voice from audience. I am more conscious of having an ear on the paintings but not having a mouth so that we can make a dialogue with audience.

Sometimes I realize the following feeling after finishing my piece. “This was what I wanted to draw.” I talk to the paintings on the process and put more layers of color. I get an inspiration from the trivial things I find in the common instances happening in my daily life.  A moment of betrayal in a positive sense makes me realize that something like this could be possible. That is why I have a side that I want to be betrayed by the paintings.  When I can draw something beyond my imagination but not the fixed image, I feel the piece is completed. If I know the completion before I start drawing, I would not draw anymore.

Many people say, “You are growing up remaining in child”. There might be childish part in my piece in a good sense. I of course get older, but I try to draw a painting related to each moment and each time of my life.

What is the most impressive exhibition so far?

It was the exhibition held in the art place “kokonoka” in October, 2016. It was the very first solo exhibition without other artists’ pieces. I had a craving for competing with others on my own collection alone once.  The exhibition ended up absorbing the voices from the location and my pieces naturally but not just laying out the pieces. Since I had exercised my ingenuity, I got a lot of great responses from the audience.
Throughout this exhibition, I became to allow myself a lot more compare to before. There is much more space for play while I talk to the paintings even though I am still obsessed with subject matters and others. The people around told me, “Your pieces have been changing”. It is very interesting to see the changes of my pieces along with the growth as an artist.

What area would you like to participate activity in the future?

I would like to expand my knowledge, so attending the graduate school is one of my options. I also want to dig into a notion of a new perspective other than painting field. For example, the same painting on the black wall and the white wall looks completely different. The same nuance will be applied to myself. I want to know how I look like if I would situate in the different environment.
I am interested in what words I would speak up in this different environment. I like to make a thing, so I also like to project with a playful spirit and enough freedom. The project itself will be changed, and it will be fun to see the change.
We are going to hold the exhibition named “munimuni” together with same grade students from the school in January. I will be able to learn something that I do not own from other students, and that is my favorite part. I want to be related to the activities of making things along with my flexible style and all kinds of perspectives.

How would you like to influence on through your pieces?

I would like to give ideas to people in the different situation and scenery. When you see the things from the different perspective, the world seems different even in the usual day or familiar-looking sites. It would be great if the audience feel the same way.
When you are restricted by the words, it tends to be obsessed with the common practice. But if you can get rid of the constraints and change your angle, you can find a new and interesting aspect.  I would like to find this new aspect with the audience.
For this reason, I want to value on the world which I can see in the paintings.

photos are taken by Jun Suzuki


Nishio Glass Mirror Co., Ltd.

Representative Director Mr. Tomoyuki Nishio

There is a company which processes glass for the luxury brand shops and department stores located in the main street of Ginza, Tokyo. I came to interview Mr. Nishio who leads a group of proficient workmen.

I have read that you started your journey in 1932 as a mirror manufacturing plant, and the business has been expanded into the processing and handling the glass and mirrors for shops and other commercial facilities. Would you tell me how has the glass and mirror industry changed as the time goes by?

Next year is our 85th anniversary and I am the third generation. The primary director, my grandfather, is originally from Mie prefecture. He went for a training in glass the plant located in Asakusa when he was 12. The mirror in the plant was very dirty and he was disappointed about it especially after seeing beautiful Fuji mountain. He wanted to make more beautiful mirror, and this feeling was the beginning of our journey. He learned about mirror manufacturing through the books and started a small plant with four members in 1932. At that time, mirror was a symbol of luxury, and he just wanted to make something beautiful so that he can please his clients.

There was a regulation against the luxury goods around the time of Manchurian Incident. He could not avoid discontinuing his business for two years when the world war started. He came back to Tokyo after the end of war and found a pile of glass where there used to be a plant. He felt certain that it was his home, and it led him to restart his plant again.

However, a life of commoner was far from mirror, so he sold mirrors to the occupation troops. He got some chocolate instead of money and gave them to the children in the neighborhood.

My grandfather taught a technique of mirror manufacturing to my father from his early age. My father was not sure about my grandfather’s policy which was limiting only mirror manufacturing while Japan’s economy had bloomed.

Moreover, the major glass companies established agencies at the small mirror plants in the town. My father agreed for the agency contract, but my grandfather had hard time understanding the changes of the times. In conclusion, we sealed the agency deal in 1969. Therefore, our business has transformed from manufacturing mirrors to processing mirrors. Before seeing this transformation, my grandfather passed away when he was 57.

My father succeeded a business when he was 24 and the economy was growing rapidly since next year was Tokyo Olympic. During the bubble period, ornamentation was basked in the limelight.

People said, “The glass industry field will never be out of business.” I strongly remember that our plant kept bright light until the next morning.

My father passed away in 1992 because of cancer. He was in the hospital for 9 years but this company remained because of the strong trust relationship with clients. Before he passed away, we had a time to talk just two of us. I told him, “Do not worry about anything since I will succeed your business.” Then he held my hand strongly and nodded even though he was in the condition of gorked.

It was after the bubble economy burst, and glass industry was shrunk drastically. My mother asked me to work on the value-added field which is reading drawing sheet so that it will be advantage for sales. On the other hand, most of the employees told me to start learning at the factory floor. Therefore, I did both of them. In the workmen’s world, they did not accept me smoothly. I was not able to drink alcohol because of stress. The only thing that save me was the friends whom I met at the drawing school I went after work. I went out for a drink with them often without thinking about the hard situation in the company.  I spent most of time for work since no one in the plant did not help me. My family and friends had hard time understanding my situation. The only person who became a major ally was my mother.

Since I had lived in the grim world, there was a feeling that I could not trust people somewhere in my heart. I have to let this feeling go now. Since I had not been accepted by other people, I had trouble accepting other people. I had been struggling about these issues, but recently, I finally overcame when I talked to an organizational development consultant. He admitted what I had been through for a long time. This incident concluded my entire laboriousness.  Now I can see myself objectively because both of the consultant and employees pointed out the issues of me. I try not to deny myself but admit who I am including the ugly side.

What would you like to place your hope on the next generation while making things become prevalent these days?

I think it is important to be devolved into what you are doing. Your job has to be something exciting and delivering happiness to the clients. When your idea and a sensation bond are combined together, it becomes a great spiral.

I try to tell the sensation of work to the workmen. Therefore, I take them to the shops of clients to show the actual scene. I think it is important to show workmen how their products are used and what are the clients’ reaction. I would like to inherit our traditional technique and fundamental essence so that the delivering happiness to the clients will be descended at the high level. 


What are the techniques that you are proud of and unique?

There are two aspects.

One is cutting the edge of glass in 45 degree and bond two pieces without including any air bubbles.

Another one is processing mirrors for the usage of severe condition in outdoors especially in the environmental field like a solar-electric power generation.

Mirrors are used for a various purpose, so the possibility is expanded widely depending on the field.

I guess you get some difficult and impossible orders from clients sometimes, but how do you handle with those orders?

There is no easy job for us. We propose our idea even though it seems like a totally impossible order so that we can guide to the possible solution. Moreover, we need to complete everything within a budget. Therefore, we have to maintain a great communication with our clients.

We always intend to show our challenging figure. Since we keep challenging something new, it is possible for us to grow and also makes clients want to ask us.

Compare to other ordinary companies, it seems more difficult to train workmen. What do you feel about this?

I do nod, respond, and ask questions more than usual. The conversation with the workmen is composed with 60% of their talk in order to make them speak more. These process makes it possible for workmen to talk genuinely rather than dancing around. I ask many questions from the different angles in order to reach a core of the issue. The conversation should not end just once but a continuous approach is necessary.

As for the workmen, they are not good at expressing themselves. So, I always ask an awful lot of questions. For example, they cannot write their visions on the paper, but they do have feelings. When we made our company philosophy, we held study sessions with all the staff. They wrote out the reason why they wanted to work at this company in the time frame of past, current, and future. These reasons were categorized into the two different groups. The first one was the work which they could proud of. The second one was the skill they could get through Nishio. We combined two reasons together and made one philosophy. “This company should be the place where is held esteem by our family and clients. We solve any difficult orders by our won skill.”

We bring up this philosophy whenever we make sure our current stand point compare to the goal. Whether our way of working is not slipped off from the goal?

What new thing would you like to try next?

We would like focus on human resources development in order to expand our business to the overseas more. We would like to be the one where the number of young workmen is the highest. We should be able to think flexibly in order to make this possible.

We accept the plant visit from outside as a part of this process. In 2018, we would like to accept 100 people for the visit. We want the visitors to see our company rather than the glass itself. There are 13 junior high schools every year to visit us, so it will be great if they can learn and be interested in what we do through workmen’s work style. I think it is dangerous to hold the feelings of “I know everything” since SNS is very popular now. Our world is based on the five senses, I want children to experience something they can remember later. We got a phone call the other day from one of the students who visited us 10 years ago, and she asked us some questions regarding the glass. We feel very happy about what we have done.