-- The "Sawako Yuri × Masato Kanazawa 'Yurikana Exhibition II'" is a creative photography exhibition series produced in collaboration between a hair and makeup artist, Sawako Yuri, and a photographer, Masato Kanazawa - the tandem behind the artistic works of MAJOLICA MAJORCA, isn't it?
Nakamura：Yes, that's right. The title "Yurikana Exhibition" is also derived from the names of the two creators. This exhibition is not aimed at raising publicity for the brand. Instead, it serves as an occasion to present works on how to give expression to the idea of 'kawaii,' which is also tied in with the brand concept of MAJOLICA MAJORCA. This is the first time I am involved as a producer, but the first event held in 2013 was extremely well received, with about 6,000 visitors over a two-week period. In the three years since then, Kanazawa and Yuri have built up a collection of 25 new works, leading to this second event.
-- What concept is the Yurikana Exhibition II based on?
Kanazawa：The previous event was based on the theme of "'kawaii' in an evolved future," which was a spin-off from the 10th anniversary of the MAJOLICA MAJORCA brand. This time, however, we have chosen concepts such as "the dual nature of girls," and given expression to more familiar concepts of "kawaii" in unrestricted ways.
-- How did you approach the creation of original works?
Kanazawa：First, I held discussions with Yuri and came up with several stories, and the visuals expanded from that point. For this exhibition, the models I photographed were Luka, Nana Komatsu, Tina Tamashiro, and Yura, and I changed the themes for each model. Using different makeup styles and forms of photographic expression, we tried to draw out the perspective of each model.
-- These are wonderful perspectives that also capture the individual personalities of the models. What kind of themes did you try out on each of them?
Kanazawa：For example, in the series based on the theme "a woman's emotion can change in a second" we had actress Nana Komatsu act out conflicting emotions, and these two facets of her were composed as a single photograph. As for the shoot of Yura, Yuri recreated the three primary colors of light and pigments in her makeup, and I photographed her using overlapping light. This created a work with profound depth, which depicted a sense of the future as well as the essence of light and color.
-- The collaboration with renowned illustrator, Akira Uno, has also imbued the works with a strong character. What was that creative process like?
Kanazawa：I handed the completed photographic prints to Mr. Uno, and he drew directly over the prints. In order to communicate the themes and intents that we had come up with to Mr. Uno, we asked the copywriter, Yukino Miyazawa, to come up with texts that could convey the intents of these themes.
Miyazawa：While referring to simple drafts of each theme designed by Yuri, I first came up with a tentative title and a short story for each draft. I usually write advertising copies; this time, however, I had to understand the intents of the two creators and expand on their images and ideas, so I found it very difficult. When I look at the final pieces, I can see that some elements that were not in the drafts have been added or changed dramatically. It was a very interesting experience for me.
Kanazawa：That is the interesting thing about collaborations. Mr. Uno also said that he was able to draw all the better with the help of Miyazawa's powerful and appealing words. At the exhibition, the titles that she came up with were also put up on display alongside the works.
Miyazawa：I had to transform the inspiration that I gleaned from the completed works into text, and further build on them, so it was a significant responsibility. In creating the titles, I wanted the people looking at the works to imagine and enjoy the stories woven into each work.
-- I am also interested to find out more about the types of spaces where collaborative works produced jointly by different creators are exhibited. Ms. Kobayashi, as the venue designer, what aspects did you pay particular attention to?
Kobayashi：The Yurikana Exhibition II does not seek to present "kawaii" purely as an exterior appearance; rather, it takes the concept of "kawaii" one step further and deeper. Hence, I paid particular attention to creating a space that invites people to enter this world. The exhibition venue is the 8/CUBE1, 2, 3 in Shibuya Hikarie, which is a glassed-in room, so to express the aesthetic of the Yurikana Exhibition II, I put up black screens that appeared to surround the glass surfaces, and created a gate decorated in a gothic style at the entrance that tied in with the product design of MAJOLICA MAJORCA. For this exhibition I put much effort into creating a space that invites visitors into a world of fantasy.
-- When I look at the gate, I feel excited as it gives me the sense that something is happening beyond it.
Kobayashi：The exhibits inside are also arranged in a way that reflects the respective themes, and the zoning allows visitors to naturally immerse themselves in the aesthetic of each of the works. We have also prepared a space where visitors can physically experience the Yurikana Exhibition II. They can try on the rose-shaped hair accessories that were handmade by Yuri for the photo shoots, as well as Venetian masks and other items. We have also produced enlarged versions of the works in the form of cut-out panels that visitors can put their faces through.
Kanazawa：Exhibitions are rarely interactive, so we devoted special efforts to giving visitors a different experience. Visitors were allowed to take photos in the sections with the cut-out panels and hair accessories, so they could snap themselves in their getups and share these pictures on social media. In addition, we also screened movies showing how the works were produced, for the enjoyment of visitors with an interest in hair and makeup or photography.
-- The posters and flyers that carry the main visual are really symbolic of this conceptual world of the Yurikana Exhibition II, aren't they?
Tose：The photograph used in the main visual was a single shot created in collaboration with Mr. Uno, based on the theme of "sin and sensuality." This was decided through discussions between Yuri and Kanazawa, while considering the impact and images that represent the overall Yurikana Exhibition II. As the art director, I was responsible for the poster design, which has been passed down from the first Yurikana Exhibition. That's why the overall design sensibility, font design, as well as decorative motifs had all inherited the MAJOLICA MAJORCA style. With regard to the title logo, I also paid attention to creating the gothic tones that were consistent with the MAJOLICA MAJORCA brand, while giving expression to the sense of "kawaii" that was characteristic of the Yurikana Exhibition II.
Nakamura：The romantic logo also symbolizes the message of the Yurikana Exhibition. Furthermore, in the case of the Yurikana Exhibition II, the poster had to include the logo of the exhibition venue, and also a lot of written information. I believe Tose worked very hard to consolidate all of that into a single poster.
Tose：Yes. For that reason, I paid attention to laying out the information as simply as I could, to ensure that the text did not get in the way of the beautifully crafted work, and that even small fonts could be read easily.
Kobayashi：I was a little surprised that this piece was selected to be the main visual. As the design has taken on a significantly more mature tone than before, there were also aspects of the venue design that I reconsidered under the influence of the main visual.
Miyazawa：Since the theme was "kawaii," I was also initially surprised to see this main visual. However, the "kawaii" that the Yurikana Exhibition II seeks to express also incorporates the idea of "sexy," which is at the other end of the spectrum from "adorable." That is why I think that this poster is a very good match for the exhibition.
Kanazawa：It is interesting for a creator to show different types of "kawaii" not limited to the conventional categories of "kawaii" that one might immediately think of. We really hope the works on display at this exhibition create surprise and make visitors question whether what they are seeing is really also a form of 'kawaii.'