By Nina J P Evans

Friday, November 21, 2014

The sketchbooks of Shinro Ohtake

Film editing if done to perfection happens in the blink of an eye so it appears naturally seamless, hear Japanese artist Shinro Ohtake offers a similar viewing experience with his collection of handmade sketchbooks. I am so impressed with his creativity and productivity, and that he never seems to repeat himself maybe it's impossible to because of the very method of cut and paste. In the photograph of the sketchbook unopened each page is a unique, the multiple vertical colours of the paper edges pick up every colour in existences without even looking at the creative designs inside, he has produced something very beautiful indeed, perhaps impossible to paint too, as each time the sketchbook stands the pages flex and breath and I should think subtle visual changes occur with the stress of the paper and the key positioning of the pages.

Inside the sketchbooks is an array of montage images with references to both American and Japanese popular culture. He's collected stuff from endless sources such as from magazines, comic books, billboards and urban empheria, found, displayed, posted and re-assembled into multilayered pieces using a variety of creative compositions and artistic materials. The pieces naturally take on new meanings from the juxtapositioning and abstractions, where cut ups of language the Japanese pictograms are added, but undecodable to me. I feel a visceral response, a kind of visual engagement with certain pieces more than others. Sometimes the pieces are created using natural forms interwoven with other media and materials. I greatly admire his visual colour sensibility, odiously inspired from the collected materials he assembles, aimed to catch the eye and sell products or the inspirational dreams to lure us to buy, though fragmented and separated from their original contexts,  don't lack impact, the dream is just more creatively manipulated and emotive.

I am delighted that the handmade sketchbooks are the finished art, sure he's done larger scale stuff and sculptures too, whereas artists like Turner kept watercolour sketchbooks and then produced a finished piece indoors in a studio. These are an artistic journey in themselves, it's  just a pity that when they are displayed within a gallery setting they are often preciously arranged inside glass cabinets. Part of the beauty of the media is the tactile quality, you want to touch, to smell, to look closely. However, you could say the same about film, at a cinema the best seats are where your eye's level with the screen, situated dead centre, with rows of seats stand in front and behind, but when the lights go down it's only you there. In the blink of an eye these visually interactive pieces are quite mesmerising.

Shinro Ohtake discusses the influence of American and Japanese cinema throughout the course of his 
artistic practice.

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