Apr 28, 2010 12:00AM

These Waves Look Familiar.

Japan is one of those places that simply oozes with cool. Be it its style, its culture or its beer, everything there just seems to add up to somewhere we want to be. Unfortunately we don't have a plane ticket OR the money to get there, so luckily, it's coming to us for 10 days at Sydney's aMBUSH Gallery, where Asahi is playing host to the Silver + Black exhibition.

One of its highlights is the Karakuchi Project, a collection of work from six international artists who were specially selected to contribute their own interpretation of the Japanese characters 'Karakuchi' (the Japanese translation for 'crisp dry taste'). One such collaborator was Tokyo-based street artist Toshikazu Nozaka, and his interpreter was more than happy to throw some questions at him for us.

Your work seems to play on the traditional Japanese motifs that we know so well. How come you chose to work with that theme?
Of course, one of the reasons is because I am Japanese, but the main reason is that I think it's important for me to inherit and develop the great culture and spirituality that old Japanese painters and craftmen have build up bit by bit. Also, it's now 20 years since I entered the world of traditional Japanese tattoo, so I think there should be some influences from Japanese tattoo design.

Would you agree that your work is distinctly Japanese? How would you describe the art movement there at the moment?
As for the style of my artwork, I think it's representing a straightforward spirituality that Japanese people have, not only Japanese. Right now, the world is connected by the internet and people share a variety of styles, so we see a lot of styles around the world in the Japanese art scene, but most of them are just sampling and I think it's hard to find the original style in the real sense. However, compared with 10 years ago, the Tokyo art scene has become very active, especially the street scene, and I get invited to lots of art shows every week... but I can only find a very few strong characters.

Here in Australia, street art is growing at a rapid pace. Is it the same in Japan? Do you think that why your work has reached such a wide audience?
I don't really know how wide my audience is, but one thing I always ensure is to explore a new genre and category in my artwork, so I hope that this has affected on my artwork bit by bit. My audience so far is Hollywood actors, 70 year old ladies, skaters.... yeah, I guess my work has reached different people recently.

You combine art, tattooing and skateboarding. How do each of these practices influence the others?
Art is for all the people around the world, tattooing is for the mind of only one person who is in front of me, and skateboarding is for the balance of my mind and body. These three elements help each other to establish myself. They are all necessary elements for me.

Do you have plans to expand your art more in an international sense? Where do you want to go next?
I do a solo show every year in Japan, but my next goal is to create more nice works and to do solo show at international galleries.