Japan, Melbourne and now Berlin. Street artist Twoone can’t keep his feet in one place and that’s a good thing

Born in Yokohama, Japan, Hiroyasu Tsuri aka Twoone has had dozens of exhibitions across Australia, Europe, America and Japan. Not shabby for someone who has moved around so much.

After initially moving to the Australian graffiti happy capital of Melbourne at 18, Tsuri currently resides in Berlin where he continues to experiment. Here we talk with the artist about his graffiti inspired technique and curatorship, moving countries as inspiration and making friends with the unknown.

twoone artist hiroyasu tsuri

The themes of damage, death and decrepitude are hard to wrangle, but Twoone navigates them like the streets of a familiar neighbourhood.

HAPPY: You’ve been described as being “informed by the Nietzschean dichotomy and Western psychology synthesised with Zen philosophy and aesthetics”: could you explain this?

TWOONE: I don’t think I can explain it 100% as this is some other person’s words describing me. But I guess what they meant was though my situation; how I was born and raised in Japan till 18, lived in Melbourne, Australia for 11 years, and now I’ve lived in Germany for three. This situation built me a sort of hybrid sense or thought pattern of east and west, I guess.

Rorschach test, 56 x 76cm, Spray paint on 4mm acrylic sheet, wood, fluorescent light tube, 2014
RORSCHACH TEST, 56 x 76cm, spray paint on 4mm acrylic sheet, wood, fluorescent light tube, 2014

HAPPY: At Backwoods Gallery (Melbourne) you showed an exhibition where you backlit portraits. Can you tell us how you came to that curatorial decision?

TWOONE: I think the first time I had that idea to paint on the clear plastic surface was from looking at half cleaned graffiti on the window, which had nice un-curatorial wipe marks, and when you saw it from the other side of the window, it looked great. Then I made a screen print in 2013, and when you make screen print you will either print, hand paint or draw onto clear acetate. This is where I discovered the potential of different mark making instead of brush or pencil on paper or canvas, I used spray paint and wiped selected parts with my bare hands to create the image. This directly translated to painting on acrylic sheet (widely known as Plexiglas).

As the material is clear it was a natural experiment for me to put a light behind it, and I always had some attraction to lights, especially man made light, so that’s how it all come together.

happy mag twoone hiroyasu tsuri backwoods gallery 100FACES
From 100FACES, exhibition at Backwoods Gallery

HAPPY: Are you currently experimenting with new modes of display?

TWOONE: I’m always experimenting with new outlets, as it makes sense for me to reach and archive what I want to express and share with the world. As I get excited to see new and different things, it should be so with my work. At the moment I’m working on film, and a sound piece with my friend Christiania Krueger. I’m also working on photographic painting, where I use my own 35mm photograph with chemicals to wipe off the ink from surface to make painterly strokes, which has some technical and visual connection to the light box painting I made before. At the same time, I still work with traditional paintings, and practice sculpture also, I just bounce between them all. It makes me more productive and creative this way.

twoone artist hiroyasu tsuri street art happy mag
FOR NO GOOD REAASON, acrylic and spray paint on wall, Miami/USA, 2015

HAPPY: What has been the energy change between Melbourne and Berlin?

TWOONE: Going to different places is likely to give me new inspiration, as I see new things, hear different sounds, meet deferent people, and experience different customs. However, I can’t really explain it by words, and also more than the inspiration from different place, I think it’s more inspiring to keep on moving. When you keep moving physically, the more you are out of your everyday routine, I feel like you get fresh ideas.

HAPPY: There’s a darkness to your work BLACKHORSE – can you see where this sort of darkness has come from inspiration wise?

TWOONE: I know what you mean, but I don’t particularly see it as darkness, I think it is Death and unknown you sensed on the BLACKHORSE.  It’s something that’s always been with us from the time of birth until you die. I think some people fear it because they don’t understand it, and no one ever will, as you only truly experience it when you die. I think that’s when people see this matter as darkness. But as an element it will always be around us, just like Life. I like to accept it as unknown, and make friends with it.

HAPPY: What are you working on currently?

I’m in Australia at the moment working in Falls Creek Artist in Residency program – painting a moth called Bogong moth (direct translating from Australian indigenous language is “BIG FELLA”) on this big brown water tank that supplies water to all the people who lives this snow village called Falls Creek. Also back in my Berlin studio, I’m working of bunch of new painting, photograph, movie, sculpture for the upcoming show in Chicago with Vertical Gallery.