Painting is an emotional process for me, and the conflicted feeling it evokes makes it a difficult process as well.
I want a poetic process in my work which harmonizes the disorder of nature—the way music can sometimes embrace the illogical impulses that both fuel and disrupt our lives.
To make a whole from these parts; that is what I am after. In this way my painting, though outwardly abstract, reflects my inner reality.
Born in Tokyo, Japan, Hisako Kobayashi traveled extensively as a young, airline stewardess before immigrating to New York City to study painting at the Pratt Institute, graduating with her MFA in 1981. Since then, Kobayashi’s work continues to be exhibited internationally and is widely collected by both private and public entities.
Hisako Kobayashi started out with the idea of painting sound and expressing feelings equivalent to those expressed by music as she aspired to pure painting made up of lines and shapes. Just as music can give pleasure and comfort to its listeners, painting, too, can evoke universal emotions and establish connections between human beings without the needs for words.
Powerful yet delicate, Kobayashi's paintings reflect both her Japanese roots and her American home of choice. They are all-over canvases aiming to evoke the sublime, thus recalling American Abstract Expressionism and the work of associated artists such as Mark Tobey. The vast fields of muted color create an atmospheric space: in fact, they seem to actually depict the air filled with energy and sound, visually expressing the invisible.
In Kobayashi's work, depth is achieved by layering, and her paintings consist of many layers of paint. At times, she even has one canvas placed on top of another one, alluding to layers of coexisting feelings. Marking the space and suggesting vibrations are subtle and dynamic lines recalling Japanese calligraphy. They trace movements and bring to mind natural sounds, like the steady beating of waves, the whisper of the wind, or the murmurs of a stream. Paintings such as Synoptic Knobs, 1999, even though abstract, often evoke the elements of water and air.
Overall, Kobayashi's works succeed in drawing the viewer in by alluding to the invisible world around us, inspiring contemplation and meditation. Her titles are places and spaces the paintings recall and are given to the works after completion - an afterthought. The paintings' great dynamic energy, created by a tension of binary opposites is ultimately resolved into a harmonic balance. This creation and reconciliation of opposites holds our attention as it reminds the viewers of their own struggle.
In quietness, I try to listen to the rhythm that comes from afar, through the deep of my body, as if carried by the wind from a place immense and far, far away. With hope I try to visualize it. That is from where my painting comes.