Interview with art student Aya Ando

Text by: Ruri Kawanami
Photo by: Mai Suzuki

We visited the atelier of Aya Ando, a 23-year old art student, who now studies at the Universität der Künste (UdK) in Berlin as an exchange student.

She is a young and ambitious artist who promised us that she would definitely come back to Berlin after her student years!

今回はベルリンの芸術大学(Universität der Künste (略UdK))で勉強する日本人アーティストの安藤綾さんのアトリエにお邪魔してきました。

You studied fine arts in Japan, what motivated you to come to Berlin in the first place?


I moved around a lot while I was living in Japan, but basically I was settled in Oota, Tokyo. I had never been to Berlin before this exchange year, but liked some German artists like Gerhard Richter, and also admired my professor Zipp here at the University, that’s why I came to Berlin.

Berlin is a very chaotic city in a positive manner. I wanted to put myself in this chaos and letting myself be chaotic and wanted to give birth to some new ideas through cross-walking in the chaos. That’s what’s very inspiring about Berlin.


We heard you work with oil paintings. Can you explain us a bit about your works?


I do oil painting but my starting concept is to see and feel the invisible that is inside of everything visible. To feel the inner side, and the time that flows within and to be able to do so through arts is what I aim to do. Let’s take an example of tree rings to make it easier to understand. How a tree grows annually is not really visible from outside but inside there is a clue of growth, appearing as rings every year. I want to feel this inner side and want that other will feel it though my works. To do so, I think what’s most important is to have a solid frame. Then you sort of put flesh onto that. That is how you enable the invisible inside visible.


Who do you admire as an artist the most and why?


I admire Isamu Wakabayashi [we are working on a Wikipedia page, ed.], a Japanese sculptor. His attitude toward sculpture making shows his passions for his works. He has passed away already. but I heard he was a kind of an artist who was always at his atelier. I believe you should have your own reason to make art works. And from his attitude, I can feel his passion to express his reason and I think his works are therefore beautiful. I can say I’m also of such type who concentrates a lot in the atelier, so I can see some similarities and want to be like him.


Tell me about your impression of Berlin and what you like about your Berliner life.


Berlin is a city where there still remains a lot of scars of the past wars, but not as something negative or as dirts but as historical evidences.
By letting these traces remaining in the city, people can touch upon it and think about the past and the future. There is an organic system in Berlin, in which you can look both at the past and the future.

Then, speaking of my impression in Berlin, it was this hugeness! It is so huge and the scale is very big in any sense. For example, to a simple fact like “there is a glass here” can be loaded with lot of meanings. I think every action and gesture in Berlin has a meaning.

Through interaction with people I have met here, I have come to re-think about many things too. For example when something bad happened to me, a friend of mine asked back “what was so bad about that?” I wondered if what I thought was normal and reasonable are not necessarily universal, because here in Berlin everybody has their own grounds and opinions. What’s good and bad depends also on person to person. It is a good chance to reconsider how I thought of these norms.




What is your favourite food and where is the favourite place to go in Berlin for relaxing and inspiration?


I like German beer! I like Japanese beer too, though. I guess I don’t really have to think about food when I have enough beer.

I don’t get drunk easily that much but last new years eve, when I was partying home, I was playing with fireworks inside the room. I don’t remember about doing it, but my friends had to stop me.

Where I go? I am always at my atelier or around university campus. I like going to jazz bars, too. I like the atmosphere of partying there.



Aya Ando is currently working on some big oil painting works. We wish her projects will go well. BERLINIPPON is working on putting up an exhibition of her works.

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