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Hideyuki Sobue (b. 1965) lives and works in the Lake District, UK, yet grew up as an orphan in Aichi, Japan. He graduated from Osaka University of Arts, Japan (awarded a scholarship). Working with drawing and painting, two historic media that have served as a fundamental means of communication since prehistoric times, he explores the unbroken line in the relationship between art and humanity.
Sobue uses an entirely original brush hatching technique employing Japanese sumi ink and acrylic. Created through a fusion of influences - the Florentine school of the Renaissance, oriental artistic heritage and neurological studies - Sobue’s medium attempts to create a platform bridging east and west, and explore the historical and the human act of seeing.
Sobue has exhibited extensively throughout the UK and Japan. Notable exhibitions include "Conversation with Ruskin", celebrating the bicentenary of John Ruskin's birth, supported by Arts Council England <solo show> (the Blue Gallery, Brantwood, Coniston/ The Ruskin Museum, Library and Research Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster); "Wordsworth and Basho: Walking Poets" (Itami City Museum Kakimori Bunko, Japan); "I Wandered...", commemorating the 200th anniversary of the final publication of William Wordsworth's poem "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" <solo show> (Rydal Mount & Gardens, Ambleside); "The Way I See" supported by Arts Council England <solo show> (Japan House Gallery, the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, London); the Royal Scottish Academy Open (RSA Lower Gallery, Edinburgh); the Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize (Kings Place, London); Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Open (RBSA Gallery); National Open Art (Minerva Theatre, Chichester). Among other public collections, his work is housed at Rydal Mount Gardens - a historic house with gardens designed by William Wordsworth.
He was awarded the Arts Council Emergency Support Fund for his new art project "Wordsworth, Hardwicke and Lake District", and is currently working on it enthusiastically.
Hideyuki Sobue is a Japanese artist currently living and working in the Lake District.
As an artist, Sobue has been always fascinated by the uniqueness of humanity. Humans share 99% of DNA base sequence with chimpanzees, yet it is obvious that humans are so unique and different from any other species on the planet. Sobue said, “We have created diverse cultures and civilizations, as a result of which we are now left with the negative legacy of serious ecological crisis. There is, however, also a rich artistic, cultural and scientific heritage deriving from humans’ unique nature. Such human uniqueness would never have existed without creativity.” Sobue believes that drawing plays a key role in the creativity unique to humanity.
During prehistory, drawing far preceded the invention of writing. Drawing is a unique fundamental tool, the source of paintings, symbols, signs and letters. For this reason, Sobue had been in search of new expressions bridging drawing, painting and writing. This has led him to create a new brush hatching technique using Japanese sumi ink and acrylic, inspired by the concept of disegno, based on drawing, from the Florentine school in the early Renaissance era, combining with ongoing studies in neuroscience, one of which revealed that the human visual brain perceives objects predominantly by oriented lines. Sobue feels that perhaps this evidence might show the unique link between drawing and writing, long hidden in the prehistoric age. The use of Japanese sumi ink, which was propagated from ancient China, and which Japanese people adopted as the unique style of ink painting called “Sumi-e”, is the key element of his practice, which aims to bridge East and West by sampling the rich cultural, artistic and ideological heritage of both.
Sobue aims to explore the unbroken line of the relationship between humanity and art from the primeval times, to look into the origin of human creativity by enquiring about its meaning in a contemporary context, and to sublimate the concept into his own visual language. In this way, Sobue is exploring alternative expression employing the core creative activity of humanity (drawing and painting) through delving into the human act of seeing, so that his work raises questions regarding the mystery and dignity of humanity, the potential of painting and drawing among numerous artistic expressions, and how to bridge East and West, with their great heritage and contemporary understanding.
Award & Residencies:
Selection for juried exhibitions:
"The diversity of the relations of line to line must be indefinite; on this condition it incorporates quality, the incommensurable sum of the affinities perceived between that which we discern and that which pre-exits within us"
A. Gleizes and J. Metzinger
I'm always wondering to myself, "What is art after all?" Surrounded by hyper-excessive visual media, almost being paralyzed by mediacracy and information manipulation, what does painting mean to me compared with other numerous artistic expressions, especially living in the epoch of post-Marcel Duchamp, who revolutionarily wiped out the meaning of art, or else seemed to declare "Art is dead" in presenting a "ready-made" toilet as a work of art? I admit, of course, and enjoy its profound argument totally, though... How can I challenge this intricate contemporary society by means of visual art, if at all? I do believe that art still has the power to convey some elements of core meaning to humanity with its own language.
I'm also curious about how art, particularly painting, has been related to the human race, since humanity gained painting before any letters had been invented in prehistory. That's why I use a primitive yet core creative expression unique to humanity, namely drawing and painting which, I believe, has served as a fundamental means of human communication for shamanic communities in the prehistoric era, then creating letters (some might argue that there're still numerous tribes without letters in the globe and once were significant civilizations such as the Inca Empire), and even forming civilizations. They also served to educate illiterate peoples, cultivate and develop cultures, and inspire human minds throughout history.
Furthermore, I'm greatly intrigued by the latest scientific studies, particularly in neuroscience, which is reforming our understanding about humanity drastically day by day. When reading about neurology, I was stunned by the fact that the processing-perceptual system of human visual brain processes for perception of form, space and colour by the oriented lines predominantly, while Area V5 in which all cells are selectively responsive to motion responds mostly to the spot stimulus. I just wonder if this cognitive process of human visual brain might suggest that how core human communication tool shifted from drawing and painting to inventing letters in prehistory. Indeed, this evidence drew me to create some new method of brush hatching technique using Japanese sumi ink and acrylic, by which body of work consists of "oriented lines". This is also inspired by classic method of disegno, based on drawing, established in Florentine school in early Renaissance era. The use of Japanese sumi ink, which was propagated in ancient China, and which Japanese people adopted as the unique style of ink painting called “Sumi-e” (Tohaku Hasegawa is reckoned to be the best of all), is the key element of my practice, which aims to bridge East and West by sampling the rich cultural, artistic and ideological heritage of both.
My aim is to explore the unbroken line of the relationship between humanity and art from the primeval times, to look into the origin of human creativity by enquiring about its meaning in a contemporary context, and to sublimate the conception into my own visual language. In this way, I’m exploring alternative expression by means of the core creative activity of humanity (drawing and painting) through delving into the human act of seeing, so that my work raises questions regarding the mystery and dignity of humanity, the potential of painting and drawing among numerous artistic expressions, and how to bridge East and West, with their great heritage and contemporary understanding.
About my artwork
believe that drawing is the first cause of all creative activities
and communication tools apart from verbal words for humanity. In the
prehistoric age before inventing painting, which preceded the
invention of letters, drawing was there. Drawing is a unique
fundamental tool for humans to express ideas even before they emerge
from subliminal sphere with a definite linguistic form. It is the
source of paintings, symbols, signs and letters. With this point of
view, I have attempted to seek a new expression bridging drawing,
painting and letters.
Artists I like
Albrecht Dürer, Caravaggio, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, William Blake, Édouard Manet, Andy Warhol, Andrew Wyeth, Chuck Close, Thohaku Hasegawa, Tadashi Kawamata, Christian Boltanski, David Nash, Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Yousuf Karsh, Robert Mapplethorpe, Diane Arbus, Sebastiao Salgado, Bruce Weber, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Andrei Tarkovsky
history, art history+theory, iconology, aesthetics, philosophy, theology, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, semiotics, psychology, neuroscience, photography, film, etc...
Centre of the artworld:
London, my studio, online, nowhere and everywhere, another city