In conversation with Hideki Iinuma

Hideki Iinuma is an artist, fine wood artist, to be exact. He carves female figures, often with a hint of sexuality, from Camphor wood. While doing so, Iinuma (in combination with modern practices) uses the old ichiboku-zukuri technique which was common in Japan until the 10th century.

Flamboyance vanity

Iinuma’s main inspiration comes from a female body and femininity. He loves to tackle the idea of how women are perceived in society and wants to express his idea of beauty throughout his work. He often uses models as a primary form of inspiration. He likes to re-position and release them from their original context. Iinuma takes the imagery directly out of the magazines and with a hint of superficiality, craftsmanship, consumerism and his idea of beauty, he releases them (in wooden form) in the world he creates for them.

Mr. Iinuma, how did the imagery you are known for come about?

The imagery of my work comes from fashion magazines, snapshots, Instagram, and so on.

Do you remember your first piece of work?

In 1999, I made a small sculpture from a roadside tree that was broken down by the storm.

Do you work in series or all your work could be considered as a continuation process of how it all started?

I can’t work in series. I carve directly from my emotions.

Your primary ‘tool’ is wood. Do you ever explore outside of it or you prefer to stick with things that you know?

I did all the experimentation and tried different materials, but when I work with wood, I feel the happiest.

Does workspace have an impact on the imagery you create? For example, if you would work outside in nature, would that impact you?

I work in an atelier that I have inside the house I live in. Daily life goes on there that does not affect me at all. But there was one time I did some work while being on a mountain, surrounded by glorious nature, and that has indeed affected my practice at the time.

What are you most interested in when it comes to your practice?

I am more interested in documenting how the media world discovers and creates new beauty, rather than the women in front of me.

You come from a country where nudity is mostly censored, but a lot of your work involves nudity. That said, has your work ever been censored?

No, never. The only thing that is self-censored is that I do not show nudity works in public museums.

When dealing with nudity, when does an art piece become erotic? Is it the perception, the visual, the connotation?

I think that the art piece itself can not be erotic, beholders perceive it as erotic.

What kind of culture are you currently interested in? Does it often fall outside an art context?

At the moment I am into Kalevala (The Finnish national epic by Elias Lönnrot). Then also saga’s from Iceland and Heroine of Opera.

Folklore, interesting. Kalevala falls into Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, two studies that examine origin. What about your origin? Where does the origin of your expression come from?

I think that the origin of my expression is in Paul Gauguin. Gauguin’s way of thinking was also taken over by Dresden’s artist group Brücke, and I am very influenced by the four of them.

To step away from work, what is the last text message you send? 

The answer is in my works.

Last meal?


Last dream?

Exhibition at the large museum.

Last time you cried?

When a car (Alfa Romeo 75) died in Switzerland, ten years ago.

Your last vacation?

From March 22nd – 26th.

Last song you played?

Happy Birthday.

Text: Katja Horvat

Photo: Courtesy on the artist

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