Invisible Cities: JENISU

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

JENISU is a crypto pop artist based in Tokyo. She was commissioned by Snapchat in 2019 and made her debut on SuperRare in January 2020. Themes such as technology, architecture, retro aesthetics and interior design are all frequently found throughout her artwork. She aims to pull the viewer into her imaginary world with realistic perspective and scale, combined with her signature color palette and detailed outlines.

Cityscape #1
Edition 1 of 1
1 of 1 edition of the
Cityscape series by Jenisu
4000×4000 px
A. Describe the cities in your art

The cities in my “Cityscape” series are primarily influenced by various elements that are often found in iconic cities in Asia such as Tokyo and Hong Kong. In particular, brightly colored neons, entertainment districts and bold signage can be repeatedly found throughout this series. By applying my distinct style to the cities in this series, I am creating a more vibrant version of reality that I wish existed.

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

The COVID-19 pandemic was the trigger that made me interested in using cities as the subject in my art. Living through lockdowns and witnessing people fleeing to the countryside made me realize that the cityscape I once knew and admired could be altered forever. The neon signage, Japanese architecture and design, as well as the seemingly infinite amounts of shop variations fascinates me the most. I try to convey much of these elements in my series and I hope others find it as fascinating as I do.

C. What do cities mean for you?

To me, cities mean advancement. It’s a hub in the physical world where humans gather together to express their most innovative ideas towards making progress as a species and making the world a better place, whether that be by working for companies, the local communities or by being artists. It also makes the world a more entertaining place through the various things you can find, see and do in the city that you can’t anywhere else.

Cityscape #2
Edition 1 of 1
1 of 1 edition of the
Cityscape series by Jenisu
4000×4000 px
D. Which are your favorite cities? How do these cities inspire you and influence your art?

Tokyo is my favorite city so far, it’s the first city I’ve ever lived in and experienced for a long time so it will always have a special place in my heart. I don’t know of any other city in the world that has several very different “mini cities” inside the one greater city. Whenever I’m outside, I’m experiencing something different. The feeling and atmosphere of the different towns, even ones within close proximity to each other, varies greatly. Shinjuku, Marunouchi, Ueno and Ginza are a few of my favorite areas.

I go out at night a lot because of my love for neon and the nighttime scenery. I often take pictures of neon signage and unique architecture, which I use as inspiration for future artworks. For the most part, my cityscape works are a reflection of what I see and experience here, as well as what I’m most drawn to.

E. 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?

Although I see cities as advancement of humanity, I also see it as a symbol of centralization. Cities used to be this place where progressive minds from all over the country gather to meet in one location to innovate and make progress. Recently, it has started to become unsustainable and unnecessary as most people can work remotely from anywhere in the world. Now, that the internet and decentralized networks has arrived, people all over the world can do almost all of the same things without being in the same place or worrying about the limitations/cost of space. So in contrast, the internet is a symbol of decentralization and I believe that is where cities of the future will be built. I hope my “Cityscape” series will be a bridge of memories that can trigger stories of what we loved most from our old world, so that people in the new world won’t forget what cities used to look like today.

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

As I live in Tokyo, I often wander the streets to gather my ideas and take mental notes of elements that I find fascinating or important. It can be anything, from a unique architectural design, to a style of calligraphy or writing that I thought looked interesting and beautiful. I would then sketch them on paper and rebuild them in high fidelity resolution using vector design tools. I chose vector as my main medium because it gives me total control to mold shapes in a way that I find perfect and represents my unique style. This process takes about 30 days on average, but the end result is a large scale art piece that is rich with details and color combinations that I hope will entertain its viewers for long into the future.

Cityscape #3
Edition 1 of 1
1 of 1 edition of the
Cityscape series by Jenisu
4000×4000 px
G. What does your ideal city look like?

My ideal city would be a clean, safe and lively city composed of a mixture of futuristic and traditional architecture. An appreciation for the old while striving for the new is important to me. A visually beautiful and awe-inspiring metropolis would be a great hub for creatives and innovators to congregate, enabling them to always push the envelope and make great advancements towards the future.

H. What’s the relationship between nature and cities in your art?

I like to show nature in my artworks to be flourishing and coexisting with the city, and not necessarily taking over it. They’re in harmony with each other. Despite the harshness of the concrete jungle, nature always seems to find a way to thrive even in the least expected places. For example, wherever I go in Tokyo I often see pot plants stacked around and on top of air conditioners and put in places that seem harsh. It’s simply done to conserve space, yet the plants still flourish regardless. I’m greatly inspired by this and it’s a constant theme throughout my work.

Cityscape #4
Edition 1 of 1
1 of 1 edition of the
Cityscape series by Jenisu
4000×4000 px
I. What are the little things you want viewers to notice in your art?

I hope the viewers can take their time when viewing my art and notice the little details that I include in my neon signs, as well as the shapes and designs of the buildings, which are a fusion of my own style and the real-life architecture of Japan.

J. What’s your dream art project to do?

My dream project would be to see my art turned into murals in the cities, as well as collaborate with fashion designers that I love so that my art can be worn by people all over the world.

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