Gallery Artists > Milt Kobayashi Biography :

Milt Kobayashi (b. 1950)  Artworks >>

Milt Kobayashi's work has been referred to as ethereal. Kobayashi is increasing his use of light, reflected in the thoughtful gleam of a woman's facial expression; exposing naked intimacy in his moody interior scenes. Kobayashi's subjects are people from another time and place and, yet, they are strangely familiar. Kobayashi's people are mysterious, lonely, romantic and yet recognizable. As a young illustrator working in New York City, Milt Kobayashi frequented the Metropolitan Museum of Art to study the masters - Sargent, Chase, Duvanek, and Vuillard. Even today, as a successful painter, he returns to the museum often to spend time with the artists of the 18th and 19th century who have influenced his own work. Most recently, revisiting William Merritt Chase helped him resolve problems with larger paintings. He also studied the works of Whistler, Chase and Sargent, who were also influenced by Velazquez. Strangely enough, it was through his study of Western masters, especially Whistler, that Kobayashi became aware of Japanese art and "the Japanese floating world of Edo". He began studying the 16th and 17th century Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock print masters Hokasai, Sharaku and Utamaro. Ukiyo-e is defined as "pictures of the floating world," depicting characters in the constantly changing motions of life. The whole perspective of Japanese art allures him - the patterns, color harmonies, use of negative space, and primarily, composition and design. "I'm focusing more on attitudes and aspects of personality, shifting from café scenes and restaurants to simpler scenes. My palette is getting brighter, as I rely more heavily on illumination. But I still have a strong connection to tonal earth colors. I've studied the heavy, dark museum paintings of Velasquez and Van Dyke and, in spite of that darkness, their subjects absolutely glow. I feel I can still maintain rich color and tone, while using a lighter palette. I stopped using the complicated patterns for a while, but now they are getting back into my work. I have also gotten much more elaborate with textures in this series. I have come to appreciate Chase's experimentation. Exploring how he attacked a painting has allowed me to look at my large canvases in a new way." A third generation Japanese-American, Kobayashi was born in New York City, soon after that his family moved to Oahu, Hawaii, and then ventured to Los Angeles when he was eight. After receiving his B.A. in 1970 from the University of California - Los Angeles, Kobayashi began working as an illustrator. However he found his work, which was quite editorial in its nature, did not fit the Los Angeles commercial art market. In 1977, Kobayashi returned to New York City. Kobayashi has received two major awards: the National Academy of Design's Ranger Purchased Award and the Allied Arts Silver Medal. His work has appeared in Forbes, Fortune, and Reader's Digest magazines. In September of 1997, Kobayashi was a featured guest artist at the Artist of America show in Denver, CO. Source

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