Press Release  January 20, 2021

The Haunting Imagery of Kazuki Takamatsu

courtesy Corey Helford Gallery

Kazuki Takamatsu, Your Wings. Acrylic, acrylic gouache, medium, giclee on canvas. 76.3 x 102 in.

Los Angeles’ Corey Helford Gallery rings in the New Year with the premiere of new works from one of their most popular artists, Kazuki Takamatsu. The Japanese artist returns to the gallery for his fifth solo show, entitled Your Wings, being hosted in the Main Gallery through February 20.

Takamatsu’s haunting black and white imagery explores narratives of death and society, through a unique depth-mapping technique that he developed, in which classic mediums such as drawing, airbrush and gouache painting are combined with computer graphics. Within this new body of work, Takamatsu reflects on the conflict between personal freedom and the restraints of living within a larger societal group. Your Wings will be introducing fourteen of the artist’s signature mixed media pieces, plus feature two new rainbow-colored series (It is Time to Release (a Piece of the Rainbow) and Thoughts on Freedom).

courtesy Corey Helford Gallery

Regarding his new show, Takamatsu shares: “I wanted to make the exhibition hopeful, not just black and white. After living a full year of self-restraint, due to COVID-19, feelings such as wanting to see my friends and go on trips became stronger and stronger. Suddenly, I thought I could go anywhere with wings. So, these new works show my honest feelings.

"The show tells a story that begins with my piece Feathers and Masks and ends with Your Wings. The wing is a symbol of hope for freedom and the wearer’s light clothing represents having no restraint and freedom from life in your room. The piece Spread the Wings (Let My Hair Down) represents the theme for these new works. All together, the works are based on the different meanings of the word ‘wings.’

"The theme of the show’s biggest piece, Your Wings, was inspired by Collette Miller’s mural, Three Flowers Wings, seen on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, which I saw during my visit for my last solo exhibition at Corey Helford Gallery in 2019. The kanji writing seen in this piece translates (from left to right) to ‘friend,’ ‘play,’ ‘liberation,’ and ‘fun.’ The sword has pierced the virus and the broken chain hints at the future. This piece is 76.3 inches high so that the viewer can take a photo in front of the outstretched wings. I made this work with the hope that many people can freely go out and enjoy galleries in the near future.

"This show also features two series that combine hand-painted and silk-screened works. The larger series, entitled It is Time to Release (a Piece of the Rainbow), consists of six colors (plus white) and the pieces portray the moment when the rain stops and a rainbow appears. In the show’s smaller series, entitled Thoughts on Freedom, the rainbow is expressed in six colors in the U.S. and seven colors in Japan. The number of colors that express a rainbow varies from country to country and it’s generally expressed anywhere from two to eight colors. The reason why I chose nine colors, one more than usual, is because I want more people around the world to see the rainbow.”

courtesy Corey Helford Gallery

Kazuki Takamatsu, Feathers and Mask. Acrylic, acrylic gouache, medium, giclee on canvas. 6.2 x 8.9 in.

About Kazuki Takamatsu
Kazuki Takamatsu was born in Sendai, Japan in 1978. From a country known both for its picturesque landscapes and for its extremely high suicide rate, his work aims to highlight this duality of enchanting beauty and dreadful sadness.

Takamatsu attended the “Oil Painting” faculty at the renowned Tohoku University of Art and Design, where he graduated in 2001. He currently lives and works in his hometown, Sendai, known for having been nearly completely destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami Tohoku in 2011. Takamatsu’s work still presents a clear connection to those catastrophic events, and his work creates beautiful hybrids of pain and hope, luring the viewer into a never-ending spiral of emotions.

To create his beautiful pieces, Takamatsu uses a technique known as “depth-mapping” while also getting inspiration for his subjects from the classic Japanese manga girls. Depth-mapping is a mixed media technique that consists of the combination of classical drawing, airbrush, digital graphics and gouache hand painting. This process makes it so that every single pixel appears as a specific shade of grey which is proportional to the distance the viewer sees it from. Thanks to this technique Takamatsu is able to give his work an incredible amount of depth and surrealism. His monochromatic Lolitas are born in a digital study and they are then shaped through infinite shades and tones of whites and greys, to emerge from an abysmal depth into the breathtaking compositions that are Takamatsu’s final pieces.

Takamatsu shares, “Black and white are a metaphorical expression of positive and negative, good and bad, race and religion. By mixing modern digital material with analogue ones, I hope to recreate the emotions young guys and girls feel towards the modern society… and the consistency that elapses between the human and the digital society.”

Takamatsu expresses these principles through dark, violent narratives of melancholic floating infant figures holding tightly onto symbolic objects such as skulls or weapons of mass destruction. Meanwhile, his Lolita’s are depicted in poses of mesmerizing innocence creating a surreal dimension where every corner could be hiding either the most warming light or the most ruthless darkness. The artworks are clearly profuse with the artist’s empathy and sensitivity and as he mentions in an interview: “Each and every one of the layers in my paintings represents a distance where there isn’t any shade or any light, an environment in which you can explore dark themes such as death and the current social conditions.”

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