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Art&Life by Lucija Stojevic

 

 

Producing art is a process of self-discovery and personal transformation. For Jesus Gomez and Megumi Kitazu, it has been a life-changing journey, a love story between two artists from different backgrounds and cultures who have grown together through their shared passion and practice of art.

Jesus was beginning his artistic career in a small painting studio in the north of Spain while Megumi was finishing her art studies in oil painting in Tokyo.  They both found themselves drawn to Berlin’s thriving art scene and met there in the late 1990s.  At the time, Jesus was focusing on the buildings of East Berlin as the centerpiece of his work while Megumi was experimenting with wooden furniture installations.

They started off as friends, sharing ideas and advising each other on their respective projects. However, soon the relationship grew and their individual approaches to art blurred into joint endeavors. In the beginning it was turbulent, as they had to collectively negotiate their personal ideas, work routines, and uses of shared space.  But love, in combination with their acknowledgement of weaknesses and recognition of strengths, helped them overcome these first hurdles.

Breakfast in Berlin

For Jesus and Megumi, art is a breeding ground for discovering new ways of understanding the human experience.  In order to develop their ideas and projects, they needed freedom and an open space to practice their creativity.  They wanted to get away from the urban art scene and intellectual noise of a place so saturated with artists.  So they packed their bags and set up a new studio on a farm in a beautiful valley in the south of France.

The creative process always begins with a single good idea. It’s a process that requires patience and alertness; that is unpredictable and mysterious.  Fruitful ideas are elusive, and come at unexpected moments.  In the stillness of their studio, Jesus and Megumi recorded their ideas when they surfaced, then let them sit in their notebooks and their subconscious, using time as a filter to evaluate them from a distance. Finally, they revisited and experimented with them until, after multiple interventions and combinations, they fixed upon a final idea- the one that they would give form as a physical object.

Jesus and Megumi’s different culture perspectives seeped into how they thought about and approached art.  In order to be closer to Megumi’s family and roots, they decided to leave France and move to the Japanese island of Sikoku, where Megumi’s family grow vegetables and farm algae. This was the first time Jesus had immersed himself in a non-European culture.  They set up their studio in the quiet countryside and lived a traditional Japanese lifestyle.  With few distractions in their new, quasi-monastic life (with a fast internet connection), they began developing unexpected connections between seemingly unconnected ideas.   The “ego factor” faded as the process became increasingly interactive. They ceased to think in terms of “my idea” or “your idea”.  It just became “our idea.”  These ideas then transformed into prints, light boxes, sculptures drawings, and traditional oil on canvas paintings.

Two years later, during a visit to Spain, they came across an old friend who offered them the chance to live in a beautiful house built by a Spanish painter at the beginning of the 20th century in the center of Madrid.  Without much hesitation, they accepted the generous offer.  They left Japan and settled into the high-ceilinged studio in Madrid, where they resumed their artistic activity with newfound energy and enthusiasm.

Returning to a lively urban context had its advantages.  The Prado became a frequent destination.  Jesus and Megumi could visit it whenever they wanted, at their own pace, pondering the works of Velásquez, Goya, Bosch, and other classics. With each visit, they took new inspiration from the works of the old masters.  While their approach to art relied on a degree of isolation, it was important for them not to lose contact with the outside world.  They made a point of exhibiting their work to learn from people’s reactions.

Today, they continue living and creating in their Madrid studio.  Their art is undoubtedly a fusion of their individual standpoints, feelings, and inclinations.  However, they are no longer the same individuals who met in Berlin 14 years ago. The project has changed their lives, but their lives are also reflected in the project. They have created their own, joint metaphor of life, and their art – as a physical set of objects – is a materialization of this metaphor.