Interview with Yoko Ono by Abraham Lubelski
The criterion of me selecting John’s work for the show was that artistically it was good. It had to be artistically good. With both of us being an artist that comes first. I am very happy there is going to be a John Lennon art exhibition on his 75th birthday. I feel that it had to be done and I’m sure the audience will get something out of it.
The producer of the gallery did a very good job. I wanted to do it and have professional people to create an essential show to bring around the world.
When John and I were together and he was making art, it was the most peaceful time, the most peaceful moment, when he was doing his artwork.
When we created songs in the studio of course it’s not always peaceful because the songs are much more energetic and powerful. It was not easy to do all that while smiling. Sometimes we were not smiling.
With his artwork he was always so happy and while he was doing it everyone around him was feeling good. There was no collaboration with John’s artwork. He was such an incredible, artist from the time he was a teenager. John was very independent and you see that in what he created.
It was a surprise that from the time he was young he was already very cynical. The kind of stuff he made was good and ready to be put in a newspaper, to be published and no one would believe that a young person did it.
Early on he was already talking about mistrust that all of us have towards government. That was coming out in his drawings. It’s incredible. And then by the time he was with me, I think that the mood changed a little and he was not really so angry about anything, but at the same time he still had that kind of cynicism and that comes through, it’s very interesting.
We are both artist so we didn’t have any convoluted discussions about our work. John would just be doing it and he would say “Yoko, look what do you think about this.” What could I say? “Oh beautiful” that’s about it.
The family environment made no difference. We went to Japan together and he was extremely interested in the Japanese brush strokes… which is kind of unique and there is a lot of Asian type work that he did at the time…
He did art work wherever we happened to be. We traveled a lot and John was able to do some work while on the plane. It was quit interesting. He was just very good at it. It didn’t matter where he was. He just did the work wherever. When he was inspired he just did it.
He had his own way definitely and he wasn’t going to copy anybody else.
He just did it the way he wanted to do it. It was very obvious.
He didn’t ask anybody what he should do. He was the first kind of independent artist in that sense. But he would ask me “ Yoko why don’t you look at this. What do you think about this” and of course am I going to say? I was always honest actually. Honestly he was so good.
The reason and the way he created were so different and so we didn’t have any competition between us. We didn’t compete with each other at all. The way he created was so different and we just loved each others work.
When John was inspire with a song, it was just like putting the lyrics in a notebook or sheet of paper, we just piled it up to make sure it did not get lost. Then one day he might say “ remember that one let’s just decode.” But with the artwork he just did it, and in the midst of a lawyer’s meeting. Lawyer meetings can be so boring. So he did some drawings. Afterwards one lawyer would say, “what are you doing? Can I have that please?” “Oh sure” John was so magnanimous. Many lawyers have his work now.
He didn’t have any effort in making, doing his artwork. He just enjoyed it and therefore he did it.
Let’s put it this way. He was a more angry young man when he was fourteen or nine and he was expressing his anger towards the government or whatever at the time. He was young but incredibly mature in that sense.
When we were together he was celebrating the fact when we were together. His work was not too cynical. If there was a cynicism it was splashed on somebody else and you see it in his drawings. It was so very interesting.
Just occasionally he would do something with a kind of a cynicism. It was interesting. You feel that as well when you go to the show. But most of the time the underlying feeling was that he was getting happy. He was happy about his life.
What would I like to know about John Lennon the person, the artist? What was he trying to do? What was possible? What do we all have in common?
Yoko Ono says that John found “true peacefulness” when he painted. So what made him restless? How did he manage? How do we manage?
As artists, as human beings what makes us the same? What makes us different? Alone or together how are our lives impacted? What and who makes the differences in our lives?
Yoko goes on to say “I myself and John we were both artist.” Yes, I want to believe that about all of us. We all are artists? Life is Art? Can we imagine and create: warmth, love, compassion, trust, joy and peace?
John Lennon would eagerly say “Yoko, look at this?” What did she see? What could she say? As we view the exhibit of John Lennon maybe we can hear John asking: “Look! What do you think about this?” What would you say?
October 1 – 31st, 2015
54 Greene Street
New York, NY 10013
©NY Arts: Interview with Yoko Ono by Abraham Lubelski