A young Japanese student, not more than 19, came by the gallery today. He was visiting from Kanagawa, outside of Tokyo. He had come to Kyoto alone for a few days to explore the art and culture of the city. That morning he had been to a museum and seen some Picasso paintings. He had read about my exhibition on-line somewhere and wanted to see it before heading back to Kanagawa that evening. It was the last day of the exhibition and he arrived a couple of hours before closing.
He spoke very good English, despite having never lived or even traveled outside of Japan. He had some seriously intelligent, probing questions for me, the kind academics or maybe Barbara Walters might ask. "What are you thinking when you paint these pictures?" "What does art mean?" When I realized he wasn't taking the piss, and had a real grasp of the English language I tried to answer. These are the kinds of questions an artist stumbles around, the kinds of questions that we often ask ourselves.
He listened and was grateful for my time. Not in an ingratiating way. I could see it in his eyes; he had a real yearning to understand art even though (or maybe because) he was studying English and computers. As he told me, he did not have the opportunities to meet or talk with artists. This was his first such experience. Later I got an e-mail from him in which he thanked me for "a great memory".
I remember years ago my old friend, the painter Daniel Joseph, responded to the question, "why do you make art?" by saying, I do it for the kids. At the time I thought it was a bit corny. But yeah, that's it. If today's 30 minute conversation with this kid from Kanagawa didn't validate everything I do, if it wasn't a reason to keep making art, well I probably shouldn't be making art.