Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Tetsuya Ishida

I remember looking through this book in Kinokuniya, putting it down then moving on to looking through the magazine section, after getting home though I couldn't get the images I'd seen out of my head, and found myself rushing back to the store hoping that they hadn't sold the only copy that they had out on display. It's a book I've been meaning to post on ever since, Tetsuya Ishida Posthumous Works published by Kyuryudo includes 100 of 180 works by Ishida who died in 2005 at the age of just 31, there is some speculation about whether his death was accidental or if he had intended to commit suicide, he died at a level crossing, after his death many of his paintings were discovered in his apartment. The book comes with an appendix and brief biography which is in Japanese, but also comes with a brief  biography in English text, I remember watching the NHK Sunday morning art show special on Ishida some months after buying the book. Kyuryudo have gone on to publish a complete  edition of his paintings - Tetsuya Ishida Complete, Ishida's art involves an imaginative use of surrealism, most of his paintings involve an almost expressionless  young salaryman, which some have interpreted as being based or perhaps representing Ishida himself.
One of the most striking aspects of Ishida's paintings is the juxtaposition of the young man in relationship to the situations Ishida places him in, his blank expression conveys a look that could be seen by the viewer as being both compliant and also at the same time  disguising a subtle forbearance, the expression could also be interpreted as expressing a resigned submissiveness. The images are sometimes graphic but on a first viewing the viewer's thoughts are primarily occupied with putting the images into some kind of order, to work out what is occurring in them, the graphic element of them seems to linger on afterwards, giving the images an added power. All of these paintings include something that make them stand out, but an underlying theme in Ishida's art is that it conveys a bereft spirituality in a world where almost every physical object around it has a price tag stuck on it, many carry a message on the shallow world of commercialisation, a row of ATMs being used as toilets by a group of the identical blank salaryman, is this use of this same man a comment on the demise of individuality in the commercial world?. Some are set in supermarkets, where the expressionless salaryman is seen in a number of different situations, another aspect is that the salaryman often mutates and co-joins with solid objects, in one he is crouched on all fours, his back acting as a sink, another is a scene where roadworks are being carried out, underneath segments of torn up tarmac the salaryman's face stares out in duplication, this blankness seems to be something that is in the ground beneath our feet covered and hidden by layers of concrete.
This physical relationship between the salaryman and his external world, (sometimes he mutates with whole buildings), offers up striking and thought provoking images, where the inanimate objects are imbued with and take on a living existence, and by turns the salaryman appears to have traded a living element of his being, forming an ambivalent balance between the two. As far as I'm aware there hasn't been a book published on Ishida outside of Japan as of yet, hopefully it'll only be a matter of time, but in the mean time most of his paintings are available to view via his webpage, click on the galleries page, select one of the eleven albums and click through the paintings.

Kyuryudo Art Publishing Co Ltd


bokusenou said...

Interesting! I haven't heard of this artist before.

me. said...

Although I have seen this book a few times in bookshops since buying it, it's one I'm glad to have come across. Definitely recommend getting a copy!.