Inspired by the art of the street, Enrico Isamu Oyama has placed his own creation in the streets of Manhattan.
Oyama recently completed a residency here, which resulted in a new mural in an Aggieville alley. The rest of his collection is on display at K-State’s Beach Museum of Art until Dec. 23.
The new mural on the side of the Little Apple Art Supply uses the graffiti-influenced technique he developed known as “quick turn structure,” or QTS.
Aileen Wang, curator for the museum, said they titled his exhibit “Ubiquitous” because the works are displayed on various surfaces — on canvas, on a large decal applied to the wall of the exhibit, in an advertisement for cosmetic supplies and in the recreation of static on an iPad.
This highlights a theme similar to graffiti being seen everywhere. Wang said QTS is a basic technique Oyama uses throughout his work.
“Depending on what space it’s in, he’s combining them,” she said. “It’s like a being inhabiting that space.”
Oyama, whose mother is Japanese and father is Italian, said he grew up in Tokyo but has spent time in Italy and other parts of the world.
“When he was in Tokyo he was part of the underground arts scene, where street culture is dominant,” Wang said.
But Oyama is not a graffiti artist.
“I had friends who were in that, and I was very influenced, but my own practices was more live paintings,” Oyama said.
During his residency, Oyama also did a live painting performance in the parking lot of the museum. The finished product, which covers two canvases, is now a permanent piece of the museum’s collection, Wang said.
It’s not often an artist who is featured in the museum gets the chance to spend time in Manhattan, especially for a full month, Wang said. She met Oyama in New York City before she moved to the Little Apple to work for K-State, and she decided to bring him down to create more artwork, she said.
“As a curator, from the beginning I’ve loved his work,” she said. “When I moved here this was a project that was brewing in my mind.”
Although the museum’s main focus is to feature Kansas and regional artists, she was able to bring Oyama’s work as well.
“Our mission of the museum is two-part; one is to nurture the arts in Kansas and the region and to help develop the promising artists in our region,” she said, “and the second part is to bring the world to Kansas.”
Oyama’s work encapsulates a world not well known to Kansas, specifically Japanese street art.
“Enrico is inspired by street culture,” she said. “Graffiti, in a sense, part of its philosophy was the idea of making the presense known everywhere, or to be everywhere.
“When I conceived this show, an important concept for me was the idea of art beyond the walls of the museum,” she said. “It’s in the spirit of the kind of art that Enrico is doing.”
To help with the mission of art beyond the museum’s walls, she asked Oyama to literally make art on a wall outside of the museum.
“I really wanted an outdoor mural to be apart of the show,” Wang said. “For that to happen, he had to stay here awhile.”
Oyama came to Manhattan at the beginning of October for a month-long residency. He conducted several live performances during that time, but the main work was the mural in Aggieville he finished on Oct. 31.
He said working on a mural in a much smaller town than he’s used to was an interesting experience.
“A lot of people stopped by and talked to me,” he said. “Everything was very positive.”
He said it may be different than New York City, where a passerby may just snap a photo and post online.
“Here people are just interested in engaging,” Wang said, agreeing with Oyama. “We’re both energized by the dynamics here.”
Wang said the Manhattan community was generous helping the residency, noting Anderson Bed and Breakfast sponsored the residency and Little Apple Art Supply donated the side of its building for the mural to be painted.
“We are so lucky the Manhattan community is supportive of the arts,” she said.