Living in multiple countries across Asia, studying traditional Chinese brush painting, and later attending the National Academy School of Fine Arts in New York, Kinuko Hoffman blends tradition and abstraction developed across her extensive training and experiences as an artist. She uses a range of mixed media in her work, such as pumice, paper, wood, string, and cloth to achieve an understated complexity. Describing her artistic process and purpose, Kinuko states, “I combine materials with explorations of color and composition to create a harmony that transports the viewer into a meditative state where balance, drama, and clarity unite.”
Name: Kinuko Imai Hoffman
Hometown: Kyoto, Japan
Currently Living: New York City
When did you start your career in art?
I started painting in 1984. I first studied traditional Chinese brush painting in Taipei and Hong Kong. After moving to New York in 2003, I switched to abstraction and began to seriously pursue an art career.
Han Gan, Tang Dynasty ca. 750, hand scroll ink on paper, Metropolitan Museum of Art
What makes your work unique?
Starting from traditional Chinese brush painting, I found my voice through abstraction with mixed media. By blending these two very different mediums, I try to create a uniquely original style that conveys a strong conceptual work of art.
Distinct Path, acrylic, cloth, paper, pumice on canvas, 50×40
Describe your aesthetic in three words?
Clarity, Complexity, Nuance.
How much preparation goes into a painting?
I work intuitively and let painting evolve through my process of applying colors and materials. I have a rough idea, which I sketch beforehand, but often the finished piece is quite different from the original sketches.
Who inspires you professionally?
Esteban Vicente, Nicolas De Steel, Morandi, Zoa Wou-ki, Agnes Martin, Richard Diebenkorn, and Isamu Noguchi.
Esteban Vincente, Blue, Red, Black, and White, 1961, MoMA
Who inspires you personally?
All human beings who have compassion and respect for others.
Favorite place to paint? What is your studio like?
My favorite place is the heart of New York City. My studio is located in Long Island City, right outside of Manhattan. From my window I have a beautiful view of the NYC skyline.
Kinuko painting in her Long Island City studio
Favorite place to vacation?
Near the ocean or in a big city filled with interesting culture and delicious cuisines.
What would you be doing if you were not an artist?
I dreamed of being an archaeologist since I was very young.
Whats a recent hobby you’ve discovered?
Caring for and growing plants; potted plants in a city environment.
If you could switch lives with anyone for a day, who would it be?
Hokusai Katsushika, the Japanese artist or Ukiyo-e, painter and printmaker of the Edo period.
Hokusai Katsushika, The Great Wave, ca. 1830-32, Metropolitan Museum of Art
One thing you could not live without?
A random fact about you?
I am 5’8″, which is rather tall for a Japanese woman of my generation.
What challenges do you think exist in the world of fine art?
Art is becoming a commodity. More provocative art gets attention. The real sense of beauty is not appreciated properly in today’s art world.
And how do you approach or overcome them?
I have to believe in myself and not be distracted by the surroundings.
Biggest accomplishment to date (personally or professionally)?
Personally, I am most proud of raising 2 well-adjusted young adults who have lived and traveled with us to five different countries. Professionally, I never stopped painting and experienced so much in those different cultures, which have strongly influenced my artwork.
Favorite piece you’ve painted to date and why?
After several years at the Art Student League of New York, my work was selected for the annual catalog that is distributed around the world. The piece is called “Bella” and it was the beginning of finding my voice in art.
What do you want your audience to know about your work?
Many layers of color are applied to the canvas to create contrasting soft and hard edges. I want the viewer to see the complexity and nuance in my work.
Name one goal for your career you’d like to achieve in the next five years?
I hope to show my work internationally in the future.
Visit Anne Neilson Fine Art to see Kinuko’s beautifully complex paintings on view in our current exhibition, Coup de Foudre!
Fearless, acrylic, cloth, paper, pumice, and string on canvas, 24×20
Devotion, acrylic, cloth, paper, pumice and string on canvas, 50×40
Hanna II, acrylic, cloth, paper, pumice, and string on canvas, 44×36
Leap, acrylic, paper and pumice on watercolor paper, 30×22
Sfumato, acrylic, paper and pumice on watercolor paper, 30×22