I paint fascinating scenery that I find around the world with Google Street View

Nao Tatsumi

ART  .  December 10th, 2020

Could you give us a little intro about you and your work?

I am an artist based in Tokyo, Japan.
Graduated from architectural design of art, University of Tsukuba.
Actually, I gave up becoming an architect. But now I realized that architecture influences my works of painting.
We can find a trivial scene can be attractive, even if it’s a place that people usually wouldn’t pay attention to. I use Google street view because I would like to find this kind of landscapes from an infinite number of choices. And I started this project named as “Street View Journey” in 2017.

You use google street view to find landscapes to paint. How does it work exactly? Do you have some favourite cities?

“Street View journey” means that I paint fascinating scenery that I found around the world  with Google Street View through my own color sense and filters.
Also I think that the fascination of using Google street view as a choice of painting motifs is that you can go to search for scenery around the world though “no one’s eyes” –(that is to say, Google street view vehicle’s eye).  And I can share this scene as neutral information with people all over the world, and show them my painting as a consequence of looking at it from my subjective point of view.
I pick a location from the area where I love its atmosphere mainly like California or South America. I like the appearance of signboards, poles, palm trees, architctures and its strong shadows.

Have you ever visited (IRL) some places you discovered via google street view?

I have never been there; I’d like to go to the West Coast of the United States.

How much do you reinterpret the colors?

Whenever I feel uncomfortable. Or when better colors appear in the picture I project in my head.

The colors you use play a big role in your artistic identity. What is your relationship to colors? Is it something you care a lot in your dailylife too?

One of a function of colors is to represent the atmosphere of the air related on the places. Moreover, it can reflect the mood of person looking at it. I want my colors to reach out to the emotions of people feeling lonely.

The light in your paintings has something very special. The scenes seem to all take place in a long summer afternoon, around 4pm, when the heat makes everyone stay in, with only one possible thing to do: napping. It’s all quiet, slow and dry. How do you manage to create such an intense and clear atmosphere from google street view images, which are made only for the purpose of sharing information, in low quality and, as I see it, not very emotional?

To draw lights means to draw shadows. As I love to draw shadows, I always trace street view back to the past to find the most effective shadows. ( Do you know that you can see the past views from the clock icon?)
Maybe for me, google street view images seems like my paintings before I draw it. So it doesn’t matter its low quality. And also when I go for a walk after a painting session, I can’t help catching every scene around me with a high chroma colors like my paintings, I get kind of “colorsick” (like carsick or air sick).

What would you like people to feel when they’re looking at your work?

I want to allow people to wonder in my paintings with my own color sense and the contrast between abstract and concrete. And I always keep in mind that I draw people by not drawing people. I don’t want my paintings to be limited by having to represent actual people in it. By expressing the absence of their presence, I believe that people can feel they inhabit the painting.

Where do you live? Does it inspire you?

I live in Yokohama, Japan.
The balance of nature and asphalt in this area is suitable for me to live and to create. It is quiet and time goes slowly. I can visit to the Tokyo metropolitan area in one hour when I need stimulation.

To finish, would you share with us some artists that inspire you?

David Hockney, Jean-Philippe Delhomme, Shaun Tan, Koen van den Broek, Haruki Murakami

Nao Tatsumi is a Japanese artist. You can follow her on instagram, on tumblr, check out her website, and get some of her prints on Sergent Paper.