Hiroyasu Tsuri — aka TWOONE — is a perpetual traveller. As an internationally acclaimed artist exhibiting throughout the globe, it’s part of the job, and it’s what drives this large-scale celebration of diversity and cultural exchange. A visual meditation on the people who cross his path and the places whose paths he crosses,‘100 Faces’ is a stirring exploration of who we are, as nomadic humans of the twenty-tens.
At 18 years of age, Hiroyasu emigrated from Japan to Australia. Now living in Berlin, as his career exploded, so did the number of stamps in his passport. Spending the last three years traversing Europe, Asia and the States, he captured the multitude of faces around him through candid photographs or quick sketches in his ever-present notebook. A medley of those he knows intimately, intertwined with unsuspecting strangers spotted in bars, on trains or even in books, these faces are the physical structures behind which all sorts of stories reside. Although he can’t know for sure, and never will, the ubiquity of migration in our increasingly cosmopolitan community drives Hiroyasu to contemplate the histories of those around him.
This extraordinarily extensive series sees Hiroyasu return to these snapshots to develop them into fully-fleshed artworks. Combining watercolour, pencil, acrylics, collage, spray paint, mirrored glass and anything else in reach, he renders an expressive textural landscape that arrests the viewer and draws them in. Renowned for his strikingly large, public murals, ‘100 Faces’ is an unmissable opportunity to experience Hiroyasu’s work in an entirely new space.
Damo: Can you introduce yourself?
TWOONE: Yeah, my name is Hiroyasu Tsuri, some people know me as TWOONE. I’m originally from Japan but left there when I was 18. I then lived in Melbourne for 10 years, and now I live in Berlin and have done for the last 2 and a half years.
Damo: Can you describe your style and your artistic practice?
TWOONE: That’s difficult. I do a lot of different things. I do painting, sculpture, painting on the walls, scratch onto things, make sounds sometimes and also make illustration books… I just do a lot of different things.
Damo: Do you have a favourite thing to do?
TWOONE: My favourite thing to do is actually playing around with new materials or ideas, rather than doing the same things every day. Some things I enjoy doing longer but it doesn’t mean I can’t move to the next one. My art media is quite a big interest for me.
Damo: ‘100 Faces’ is your show at Backwoods Gallery on the 21st October, what’s the show about? What’s it involve?
TWOONE: So as the title says ‘100 Faces’ is one of the works I will be showing and it will be the main body of work. This work is a hundred portraits of people or things that I have seen in last three years from 2014 to 2016. It’s actually the time since I left Melbourne in February 2014 and since then I have stayed in Japan and moved to Berlin. I start making water colours 20cm x 30cm because when I returned to Japan I didn’t have a studio space, but I just always need to do something. It’s just sort of my hobby – I have to do it. I just bought myself a sketch pad, a water colour pad and water colour and start documenting faces.
From pictures in newspapers to friends, I just started getting into a habit of doing something every day. I started feeling that I needed to. I just wanted to document people more. At that time I didn’t know why I just started doing it and now over the last three years whilst I travelled I have painted and sketched and taken photographs with my film camera on the street, in trains, cafes or bars etc.
Some people I know, some people I just saw them on the street. Or passing by and I just sketch them or captured them very quickly on the street and bring them back as a reference for my water colours.
I have also brought five 2m x 2m paintings, 8 middle sized paintings and a few smaller pieces.
Damo: Where did you draw the motivation to do something like this show?
TWOONE: 100 Faces became an obsession of capturing this time and moment. I think that was the motivation. To capture the moment. ‘This moment I do it and move on to next’. So that’s kind of become momentum in a way.
Damo: You were saying you travel a lot, you’re from Japan, you’ve lived in Melbourne, you now live in Berlin, where’s your favourite place to travel?
TWOONE: The places I have not been to yet!
Damo: Where’s home? Where do you call home now?
TWOONE: Hmm. I have some home in Melbourne, I have some home in Japan, and I have some home in Berlin too. I feel definitely those three cities because I have got my partner in Berlin and I’ve got many close friends and family in Melbourne and also in Japan. Definitely those three cities.
Damo: Do you have a mentor or people that you look up to, who you use as inspiration or motivation?
TWOONE: I have got lot of creative friends like artists, musicians, chefs and business people, and they have got this very good energy about them, and they are always creating something. Like Ghostpatrol he’s definitely like me because we just keep doing things. He is a really good influence.
Damo: Why TWOONE? How did you come up with that?
TWOONE: It’s not that much of a great story but you know everyone who is involved with graffiti or street art get a name when you teenager? I just picked that one. It was kind of like a change in my family name. I started writing Twoi but that didn’t look really good as characters so I just took out the I and just put the one.
Damo: Have you documented the hundred faces process in anyway?
TWOONE: Yes I have got a book in progress at the moment with my old friend Timba Smits. I used to share a studio with him in Melbourne and he’s designing the book for me which will contain all the hundred pieces plus some of the sketches and those photos that I used for reference. There will also be some explanations about each piece, as each piece has got a back title, date and also where they are from – which I think makes it a little bit more in depth. This book will be available on www.twooneelephant.bigcartel.com
Opening October 21-30th at Level 2, 5 Easey Street, Collingwood
Opening Reception: Friday October 21st at 6pm
Exhibition entry is free.