Daisuke Nagaoka, Tree, Detail

Handmade to the extreme

Seeking some quiet moment in the busy streets of Shibuya, I sneaked a peak at the “Maji-Yabai – Fuckin’ brilliant!!” exhibition at Tokyo Wonder Site. Most striking for me at this collaborative project (featuring British and Japanese designers) was the incredible dedication and almost masochistic manual work of 4 of the artists.


Daisuke Nagaoka, Tree, Tryptich

Daisuke Nagaoka, Tree, Detail

Let’s start with “Tree” from Daisuke Nagaoka, a rather big ink drawing. Look at this detail, the way he moves his pen in tiny waves and strokes to create fantastic, mysterious animals and nature elements.

Daisuke Nagaoka, Tree, Detail

Another astonishing handicrafts-piece comes from Kiera Bennett. This tiny collage called “Fountain” consists of layers and layers of tidily cropped color-bits which – in the end – show familiar motives in a “painting by numbers” esthetic.

Kiera Bennett, Fountain
Kiera Bennett, Fountain, Detail

Chikara Matsumoto made an installation: in some kind of wodden van, one could sit (carefully) on a tiny bench around a tiny table with a small TV, on wich her animation “Heavy Metal” was running.


Chikara Matsumoto, Installation

Chikara Matsumoto, Installation

The walls of the van were wallpapered with pencil drawings: every single frame of her animation to touch and feel.

Chikara Matsumoto, Drawings

This, however was even topped by Kazuhito Sahara, who needed more than 4 big folders to expose his over 3000 sheets of acryl painted storyboards for his movie “Phantom Train”.

Kazuhito Sahara, Phantom Train, Movie
Kazuhito Sahara, Phantom Train, Sheets

Now then – what does this tell us?
In a world, where nothing seems more natural, than to use computers for repetitive tasks, for rendering movies for… anything, my immediate reaction was: why did they bother to make all that by hand? Are they a bunch of masochistic artists hating computers???

Talking to Kazuhito Sahara for a bit, it seems like I was wrong…

“Chikara Matsumoto, Daisuke Nagaoka and I have been working together for about 3 years. Maybe we developed a similar work in that way, that we all do handdrawn animation, and we do use the computer for making the final movie. Daisuke is a bit masochistic, I admit, but talking about me: I am a painter and simply came to the point where I wanted my paintings to move. Keeping things handdrawn might simply be the wish to keep the love and human touch in my works.”

Handmade – Love – Human touch…

Strange for me to see, that the “original way” of making things seemed so far off.

Written by Uleshka

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