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Shizuka Kusayanagi on her painting "Portrait of a Palm"

Portait of a Palm paintingI wanted to talk about the colours of my paintings here on Peggy, which are pretty exclusive. I've either shown them once or have never [shown them]. I only took up oil painting when I moved here to Los Angeles since I was inspired by the abundance of colour in nature and on the streets. The multicultural aspects of LA exposed me to things like Mexican and Central American culture and food; and things like the food trucks and colourful signs on the mom-and-pop restaurants. They sell colourful juices, papaya fruit, mango with Tajin, Fuego chips, Cheetos, and all the colourful packaging. 

I took up oil painting also because I could paint outside. I also have kids, so I didn't want to paint inside. I didn't have a studio, but could set up a little easel or space outside on the balcony and start painting. I was so excited about combining the colours I saw. I have never seen a sunset as beautiful as LA, with diverse pink and purple colours. The beaches are not aquamarine, but sometimes I just have the feeling of, or maybe the fantasy of, the beach; the aquamarine is still there for some reason.

That's LA; it has that aspect of fantasy and reality, which can be harsh. And the poverty right next to wealth and a lot of contrasts. But overall, they're all under the same very bright sun. And it is a dry climate that still gives life to desert plants, beautiful bougainvilleas, night blossoming cactuses, and all the buckwheat sage, just the beautiful colours that nature can provide that I wanted to depict on canvas or board.

—Shizuka Kusayanagi

Portrait of a Palm in situPortrait of a Palm in situView Portrait of a Palm on Peggy. 


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