I am obsessed. It’s true. I can’t tell you why or how, but for whatever reason these Japanese artists keep capturing valuable space in my mind. I mean, they aren’t the only artists of interest to me. Honestly, a quick scan of my recent browser history, or shows I’ve been to, or even the artists I reference weekly on twitter show pretty quickly that my interests are everywhere and always evolving.
Yet, when I sit down and think about the artists that really get my heart pumping and I want to write a bit about, the names that float up are very often Japanese. I could, and I have, ramble on and on about the wow of Rinpa and how it always floats my boat. Really though, there are just as many contemporary artists that get me going.
A really good example of this, and a really good example of the kind of art I find most exhilarating these days is the work of Yuichi Yokoyama.
Yokoyama’s work operates in a rich zone between objective and the abstract. The real, the concrete, the understandable, and the bizarre, the weird, the emotion inducing, but unclear present of images. When his books (he is primarily a manga-ka) go completely abstract they are like pure thought zones full of entrancing geometry and beckoning depth. And when things seem more clear, as when there are actually figures moving about and talking, there is no loss of that energy. The absorption never seems to let up or release.
This also describes his paintings quite well.
This mix of abstraction and figurative, place and no place, person and no person, is really what draws me to his work.
All of this is similar to what I am creating in my own paintings. Blends of pure abstraction and recognizable instances, figures, and places. There is this kind of seamless calm in Yokoyama’s work that I feel myself chasing a bit in my own work. Things appear to happen so effortlessly. Mixes of low and high, calm and tension, mundane and magnificent. Yes, definitely a bit of a chase to this in my work.
I also find the idea of comics really fascinating to me these days as well. I’m experimenting with a few Yokoyama inspired landscapes and settings, and I very much think they could end up in the form of a comic sooner than later. A project for the future to be sure.
I’d encourage you to check out a few of his books to read. These are a few of my favorites, You can pick them up easily enough on Amazon – here, here, and here. And this is a good interview with him if you want to know a bit more
And of course, you can feel free to purchase any of them and send me a copy, should you be so inclined.
Also, any other abstract comic artists I should know? Would be much obliged.