Ever since G.L.A.M.S formed under the title of “Mikaru’s solo project” he has spoken about his works that don’t directly have to do with music. The love for art and jewelry has always been there, but it has always been in the shadow of his music when he visited The Netherlands.
During our last interview in November he already dropped a small hint that he was playing with the idea of doing something with fashion or clothing, but instead he decided to bring a few of his paintings and his new jewelry collection (which is appropriately titled “Mikaru”) with him on his solo run through Europe.
Aside from this interview I of course took photos of his solo live show in Special Edition. You can find those here: [Photography] G.L.A.M.S @ Special Edition
The paintings he brought with him were “REAL”, “花魁-OIRAN-”, “BRAIN”, “MY FACE” and “WHITE MOTH”. During the first stop of the solo run in Dordrecht I asked Mikaru to tell me about each of his paintings and his jewelry, and here is what he had to say about that one question: “It’s very hard to explain in English, but I will try my best.”
(F25 (803x652mm), oil on canvas, €550 / ¥74,000)
Mikaru: We all have two faces. One face is the one that you show to your family, friends and other people. But the other face is only for yourself. So everybody hides their true face and puts on a mask. I hope that someday I can show my real face to somebody.
Stephany: So you’ve made this painting with yourself in mind?
Mikaru: Yes. Also, the first impression of this painting might be a bit scary or even dark, but the theme I had in mind when I was painting it was actually “hope”.
(F25 (803×652 mm), oil on canvas, €850 / ¥114,000)
Mikaru: Are you familiar with the story of “oiran”? Many years ago there was something that is comparable to a brothel of sorts in Japan. The male clients would pay money for sex with the girls living there. There used to be many girls living in such a place, as it’s basically like a shop. The top class women of the shop are called “oiran”.
The girl on this painting is one of those top class women, a star. She’s very famous and she earns a lot of money, but she can never go out. Living in a small city, more something like a village or even a school. She has to be strong, have a strong heart. Like a phoenix. Which is why I pictured that bird behind her.
There is one way how she can get out of this life, however. And that is marriage. If a guy marries her she can go out into the world. But until that day comes, she has to fight every single day. So her eyes have a very strong power.
(F25 (803x652mm), oil on canvas, €720 / ¥96,000)
Mikaru: If I have to explain this painting in a single word it would be “passion”. Every moment of the day, every single second, I think a lot of things. Not just music of course, but also paintings, jewelry, friends, family, the future, the past… So sometimes it is very confusing, even for me. Sometimes I can’t control myself or my emotions and I just want to shout, but I don’t.
When I finished this painting I came to look at it sometimes, and the feelings I got from looking at it in its finished state actually was “calm down”. So I hope that when people look at this painting, they will feel the same thing. “Calm down.”
(F8 (455x380mm), oil on canvas, €450 / ¥60,000)
Mikaru: Do you know how this painting is made? No? First I made this background, which looks a bit like a wall. Then I thought, “I want to make something unique”, so I wanted to try and use my face. I painted my face with the pattern you see here, and then I only had one chance to make this painting. I stood in front of it with my painted face, “okay, here we go!” and I lowered my face onto the canvas. When I removed it again and looked at the result I thought “beautiful!”. So this is the right side of my face. Can you see? The nose, eye, lips and cheek?
I didn’t show it to anyone else, but I have another painting like this, but that one is from the waist up, in white. I made it the same way as this one, but when I looked at the end result it wasn’t beautiful at all! It was quite gore-y in fact. My muscles and my face… I can’t possibly show it to you. But this one, I really like this.
(F12 (606x500mm), oil on canvas, €600 / ¥80,000)
Mikaru: When I finished this painting I couldn’t start on a new one. This one is so beautiful. I have often thought “can I make a painting that’s more beautiful than this one?”, and when I finished this one I couldn’t paint anything for a few weeks.
This is a moth, not a butterfly. It’s the most beautiful moth in the world, very colorful, but unfortunately I can’t remember the name.
Even when I am looking at this painting now, I think it is super beautiful. I want my own work! But I actually think that with all of the works of art I create, and I want other people to be able to see my work, not just keep it for myself.
I remember when I was making this painting my hand was shaking so badly. I was so scared to make a mistake. Because in this case, if I make a mistake, there is no way to correct it. One wrong stroke and the entire painting is ruined. I made the red and the blue behind the moth first, and then added the white. There was no room for error with this painting!
Stephany: Out of the five paintings you have with you right now, which one would you say is your favorite?
Mikaru: When we’re looking at the strictly visual aspect of the paintings “WHITE MOTH” is my favorite. But when we look at the meaning behind the paintings themselves my favorite is “花魁-OIRAN-”.
Mikaru: No. Every piece of jewelry you see here is different. If I start on one of them, I can’t make another one at the same time. I have to finish the one I’m working on before I can start a new one. I can’t afford to make a piece of jewelry that has mistakes in it. During the sculpting process it’s actually a very fragile and delicate process. If I am only the slightest bit too rough during this process it will break and thus ruin the piece, resulting in me having to scrap the process up until that point and start from the beginning. I’ve dropped each of these pieces a lot because of how nervous I was, and every single time I had to start over from scratch. Every piece of jewelry on its own is very difficult, but it is the one that have the very small pieces and details that are very, very difficult to make.
When I make jewelry I play jazz music and I start at about 4 in the morning, thinking “okay, jewelry time!”. After two or three hours I stop for some much needed coffee, and when I look up from my work I am actually dizzy and can’t find my balance very well because of how concentrated I was on the piece so close to my face for so long.
Especially the rings and two of the pendants. I wanted to make them the same way, or at least similar. Which took a lot of time. Every single piece of jewelry you see here is made with 4 or 5 hours of work every single day, for about a week a piece. First I start with sculpting them, then I have to prepare them for the carving process and after that I still have to work on the inside. At this point I consider them my sons because of the sheer amount of work and effort that went into them!
Stephany: The same question as with your paintings, do you have a piece of jewelry that you would say is your favorite?
Mikaru: Oh man, that’s also very difficult! I want several of these for myself, but I only make jewelry that I like. If I am thinking about jewelry that is intended for girls, I think about what I want it to look like when they are wearing it. I want to see all of these on girls as well!
You’ve probably already seen that there are actual prices in this article, and that is because all of Mikaru’s works are for sale. They were for sale during the tour, but they’re also for sale on his website. This goes for both the paintings and the jewelry (on his website you will find even more than these five paintings, too!).
For more information, visit Mikaru’s website at http://www.g-l-a-m-s.com/
G.L.A.M.S is no longer “Mikaru’s solo project” either. With the support of Yudai (guitar), Tetsuto (bass) and Syu (drums) next to him Mikaru told me that he no longer sees G.L.A.M.S as his solo works, but as the result of ideas between the members as a group.
Last November they released their latest mini-album called “EVER-CHANGING” which showcases the diversity of G.L.A.M.S as a band with songs written from completely different musical directions (like for example rock, jazz and even some metal influence). But that is something I’m going to leave you to check out for yourself!