MASAKI YADA

 

Artist statement:

My interest rests on the excavation of the lost visual language that was cultivated by Dutch and Flemish old masters of the 16th century, as well as Japanese painters of the same era, such as Jakuchu Ito. While focusing on the similarities between these painters who lived in the same period, but geographically far apart from one another, I want to bring their visual parlance back to the 21st century. Moreover, through my work, I intend to honour virtuosi from the past. My heroes include Hieronymus Bosch, Johannes Vermeer, Jan Van Eyck, Willem van Aelst and Rachel Ruysch. More recent painters like William De Kooning, Barnet Newman, Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke have also had a profound influence on me. In fact, I am still intrigued by the grammar of their visual lexicon.

Simultaneously, I endeavour to find a way of overcoming the notion of painting as representation. I strive to achieve this by giveing “intensity” to details of objects that I depict in an attempt to reach beyond the mere tracing of their appearance. Having encountered the philosophy of French Post-Structuralists, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, I embrace the notion of “intensive living” that they advocate to the application of the painterly language. They seem to argue that we are all capable of actively engaging in our life and the world by constantly “becoming” into something and “affecting” the external world, as opposed to perceiving our “being” as a given privilege. Suggesting a shift from “being” to “becoming”, the application of “intensive living” aims to transcend the notion of painting as the mere representational vehicle, which is epitomized in portraits of rulers and dictators in the past that only purported to preserve their fading glories and indulge themselves in vanity. In other words, I intend to achieve the autonomous language of painting by intensifying the energy that I pour into paintings. While I am aware of a challenge that realist painters face in the 21st century, particularly in reference to the question of the viability of the medium itself, I would rather let my passion for painting deal with it. Moreover, I see a possibility in painting as an unusual yet effective medium to further develop metaphysics, as opposed to logic, mathematics, and science that are considered to be the primary sources of philosophical investigation.

Another influence by Deleuze and Guattari is found on my preferred aesthetics, which celebrates complexity and chaos. While being attracted to complexity, I also endeavour to reach an accord that is posited on complexity. I try to find a coherent structure without losing a degree of complexity that reflects upon the world that we inhabit where we encounter numerous contradictions on a regular basis.

Over the last few years I have worked on a series of still life paintings with flowers and insects that are inspired by Dutch and Flemish old masters. The way in which insects and wasps are lured by the nectar of flowers reminds me of human desires, constantly pursuing wealth and surplus through numerous wars and conflicts. It is my attempt to visually interpret a passage in Deleuze and Guatari’s magnum opus A Thousand Plateaus where the authors refer to the geopolitical process of deterritorialization and reterritorialization by a metaphoric description of the rhizomatic relationship between the wasp and the orchid. Hence, some of the titles of these paintings refer to their work, which often concerns desire and conflict.

Parallel to painting, I have been pursuing my passion for theoretical practice. Aesthetic theories, philosophy and social issues feed my intellectual curiosity, and I find inspiration for art as well as living in the complex thought of great thinkers. My passion for theoretical practice appears in the form of performative lectures. The aim of it is to bring a platform for critical thinking to the context of art.

 

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