Shinichi Maruyama

Shinichi Maruyama

Email interview with Shinichi Maruyama conducted by Sarah Matheson, ’13, studio art major and art history minor, University of Richmond, November 2012

Can you describe your creative process as one that includes flow? If so, when do you experience it or what are the conditions that make it possible? And do you consider your artistic process to be just as important as the finished product?

Although being Japanese, we are not so familiar with the psychological meaning of “flow,” however we are very much influenced by this state of mind through Zen culture such as Judo, Sado (Japanese tea ceremony), Shodo (calligraphy), etc. All of these sports and art forms which are originated from Zen culture require self-discipline. Being disciplined takes you to a state of mind of “flow.”

The Kusho series was created from memories of practicing calligraphy in my childhood. I loved the nervous, precarious feeling of sitting before an empty white page, the moment just before my brush touches the paper. Kusho is calligraphy in a way. Instead of on paper, it is written in the air. Throwing ink and water in the air numerous times requires self-discipline.

By stopping time and giving permanence to ephemeral, short-lived moments, you create a palpable feeling of tension in your Kusho series. Is this an intentional juxtaposition to the flow of the piece? Why are you so interested in movement and motion?

Because I love the fact that it is beyond my control.

The newest of your series, Nude, uses movement and the human figure to construct new, independent shapes and forms. How did you transition from Kusho to Nude?

I tried to capture a moment which the human eye cannot in real time in Kusho. In Nude, I combined those unobtainable moments together.

Why did you decide to abandon fluids as a subject and focus on the human figure?

Because I am also interested in the beauty of the human body.

Is it important to you for the viewer of these works to recognize the human figure as the source of the images?

Yes, it is.

Maruyama regarding the Nude series

I tried to capture the beauty of both the human body’s figure and its motion.

The figure in the image, which is formed into something similar to a sculpture, is created by combining 10,000 individual photographs of a dancer.

By putting together uninterrupted individual moments, the resulting image as a whole will appear to be something different from what actually exists.

With regard to these two viewpoints, a connection can be made to a human being’s perception of presence in life.

KUSHO from Shinichi Maruyama on Vimeo.


Shinichi Maruyama (Japanese born 1968) studied film and photography at Chiba University (1991) and worked as a member of Hakuhobo Photo Creative as well as a freelance photographer (1992-98). Recent solo shows have been held at Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York (2009, 2012) and Blitz Gallery, Tokyo (2009). Maruyama has been awarded the New York ADC Gold Award (1998) and the Japan Magazine Advertisement Prize (1999) and has published two books (2001), The Spiti Valley and Spiti. He currently lives and works in New York. 

Read more about Maruyama and his work