Invisible Cities: Gutty Kreum

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The interview is conducted as part of the SuperRare April Exhibition: Invisible Cities, curated by an and Elisabeth Johs.

Gutty Kreum is a Canada-based pixel artist. Heavily influenced by both urban and rural Japan, he tries bringing a feeling of nostalgia and calmness with every illustration. His work has also been featured in the physical and digital version of the book ‘The Masters of Pixel Art – volume 3’.

After the Rain: 11PM Koganei, Tokyo
Edition 1 of 1
This piece is meant the capture the feeling of wandering a neighborhood after an evening rain has fallen. The smell of petrichor and wet foliage lingers. Perhaps you’ll grab a coffee from the vending machine; listen to the symphony of electrical humming filling the silent night, and stroll a little longer. Sleep can wait. This piece is 4000×2000 in size.
Describe the cities in your art:

The cities in my art are all based off of real life locations in Japan. I create them to be explored.

How did you become interested in using cities as the subject of your art? Which aspects of cities fascinate you the most?

The cities of Japan interest me in how incorporated traditional structures are in their layouts. A lot of ancient beauty is preserved amongst the buildings that have been erected as time passed and technology evolved. A large amount of hard work, dedication and care are made to maintain harmony.

青: 2PM Kanagawa, Tokyo
Edition 1 of 1
青 means both ‘blue and ‘green’ in Japanese. A more experimental piece of mine that showcases 5 colors. This is a daydream on a muggy summer afternoon. Lulled to sleep by a relentless cicada symphony, you drift up the garden path, upwards into the spiraling sky.
What do cities mean for you?

A convergence of ideas and people. Convenience.

Which are your favorite cities? How do these cities inspire you and influence your art?

Nara city and Osaka are my favorite cities. I’ve visited them before (with not nearly enough time to fully explore them). Nara is full of shrines, old architecture and spirit. Osaka has so much to explore from alleyways, canals, and quaint shops to the inner city and its relatively looming buildings.

夏: Nara
Edition 1 of 1
夏 means ‘summer’ in Japanese. This piece references a photograph I took while walking the winding streets of Nara, Japan. Nara is a beautiful city with an atmosphere of tranquility around every corner, and my goal was to capture a brief moment of that beauty in a subtle animation. Canvas size: 4000×4000
What are you trying to express through depiction of cities? In portraying cities, what are the (bigger or personal) stories you’re trying to tell?

Beauty. I haven’t aimed for a story before, I try to capture the existing beauty of an inspiration and mix it with some of my memories to hopefully convey a nostalgic moment.

What’s your approach to make art about cities (creative process, technique, art genre, aesthetics etc.) 

I mostly visit Japan in Google Maps, drop into a random area using the Street View feature and find a space that inspires me.

7AM Nakano, Tokyo
Edition 1 of 1
A pixel-art piece to capture the feeling of wandering down city roads at 7AM on a grey, Autumn morning. Everyone else is getting ready for the day and the streets are devoid of life. This piece is based on a real location in Nakano, Tokyo.
What does your ideal city look like?

Winding streets, nothing laid out on a grid. Trees and greenspace that compliment buildings. No buildings made of concrete. Inconvenient, but beautiful.

What’s the relationship between people and cities (or nature and cities) in your art?

It’s a relationship between nature and cities in my art, and it’s mostly devoid of human life. I like showing a balance of nature and cities: buildings nestled in nature and nature nestled around buildings.

流星: 2AM Tottori
Edition 1 of 1
“流星” means ‘Meteor’ in Japanese. A brief stop on a night-time walk in the Tottori Prefecture. A shooting star flickers into view and a normally mundane view becomes a dreamlike memory. This 30 color pixel-art piece attempts to bring a calming atmosphere. Canvas size: 4000×2000
What are the little things you want your viewers to notice in your art?

Some of the subtle movements that make up the animations. I want the viewer to explore on their own and feel as if they could step into the art and enjoy the moment caught in time on the digital canvas.

What are the little things you want your viewers to notice in your art?

J. I am grateful to be able to say: My next illustration or animation. It’s a dream to be able to create from what inspires me.

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