We meet super-talented artist and cat lover Yuko Higuchi
Yuko's latest book Museum is a magical adventure involving children morphing into cats and other curious creatures – it's a book you'll want to treasure long after you've finished colouring it in. Yuko has an army of adoring fans all over the world, and this book definitely won't disappoint. We recently caught up with her at her studio in Tokyo…
Your cat Boris is a big hit with your Instagram fans! He is very handsome, but looks like he knows it...can you tell us a bit about him? Does he have any funny habits?
I adopted Boris, a kitten from a stray, from someone who had rescued him. We have been together ever since. He is a very brutish and jealous cat. When somebody comes near me he always jumps between us.
What’s your studio space like? Are you a collector?
My studio is at my house. Also, I rent storage for my artwork and various items that I use for my work. I’ve been thinking about separating my workplace and my living space, if I can find a desirable property, so I am currently in the middle of property hunting. I don’t know if I consider myself a collector, even though I adore antiques. I just love to collect all kinds of items. I collect things such as old human anatomy models, bones, snail-shaped and egg-shaped objects, etc.
You’ve been asked to collaborate with lots of exciting people and brands. Which have been your favourite collaborations so far?
I had lots of fun working with Ladurée. In other instances it is more like paying homage to someone rather than collaborating. Creating paintings based on artwork created by Itō Jakuchū*, Hieronymus Bosch** and Pieter Bruegel (Brueghel) the Elder** were all very exciting experiences.
We noticed that you‘d worked with Ladurée – did you sample lots of macarons, and if so, which was your favourite flavour?
I really love pistachio flavor!
Your new product range looks lovely – can you tell us where the name Gustave came from, and which new products are in the pipeline?
The name ‘Gustave’ comes from a large, male, Nile crocodile that actually exists. I really admire giant creatures. They inspire me, so I chose the name out of respect. Currently, Gustave has new collections of tableware (Kutani), wrist watches, and dresses.
Your new exhibition and book BABEL sounds exciting, can you tell us a bit more?
When the artworks of Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel (Brueghel) the Elder were brought over from Boijmans Museum for a large-scale exhibition, Asahi Shimbun Company ― one of the sponsors of the exhibition ― asked me to do a collaborative project. So, we decided to create BABEL: Yuko Higuchi Artworks, which is a collection of my paintings that pay homage to Bosch and Bruegel.
What’s next for you?
My schedule is packed with projects for the foreseeable future and I am not allowed to discuss many of them. However, I am thinking of creating artwork that has a story (like picture books) or pop-up books that demonstrate various experiments. I would also like to focus on holding exhibitions, as it is very important for me to show my own work.
Yuko Higuchi is a painter and picture book author. Residing in Tokyo, her main activity is exhibiting her work through solo shows. She established her original brand ‘Gustave higuchiyuko’ after collaborating on projects with various corporations. She has also published many individual books and publications.
Bruegel’s The Tower of Babel and Great 16th Century Masters is currently being held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. Yuko Higuchi’s collaborative artwork is on display at the TOBICHI2 Gallery in Aoyama, Tokyo.
Find out more at www.higuchiyuko.com
*1 Itō Jakuchū was a Japanese painter from Kyoto who lived in the mid-Edo period (1651~1745). Itō Jakuchū was known as a “painter extraordinaire” who skillfully fused realism and imagination in his paintings. Yuko Higuchi created paintings in order to pay homage to Itō Jakuchū, and a special event was held in 2016 commemorating the 300th anniversary of Itō Jakuchū's birth.
*2 Yuko Higuchi has loved the monsters that appeared in the artworks of Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel (Brueghel) the Elder ever since she was little. She created paintings that pay homage to Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel (Brueghel) the Elder based around about thirteen paintings that most inspired her from among Bosch's and Bruegel's artworks when they were displayed at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum’s Special Exhibition of Bruegel’s The Tower of Babel and Great 16th Century Masters. Higuchi’s paintings were compiled into the book BABEL, which became a hot topic of conversation when it was published.
Museum is available now, look out for Yuko Higuchi's Cats & Other Creatures coming soon…