Tokyo Damage Report

ATSUSHI NAKAYA (中矢 篤志)interview


.Atsushi Nakaya is an amazing painter, whose skill is matched by his unique imagery, which, dammned if it don’t just capture the zeitgeist of contemporary Japan. Because it is cute and grotesque at the same time is why. "Why what?" Why it captures it, stupid.

Anyway I was fortunate enough to get an interview from him. Here it is.



Where did you grow up?

Until I was 19, I lived in Nagoya City (in Aichi prefecture). After that, I went to art school in kanazawa.

When did you first look at art and say to yourself, hey, I can do that too!
"アートは 偉くて有名人だけの事じゃない。。。 私も作れて、販売も出来る。"と 思ったのはいつ、どこでしたか? 

I started thinking that way last year, when my artworks first became popular, and people started to buy them.

Between Western style and traditional Japanese style, where is your style,and why? What aspects?
洋画と日本画の間、 あつし の 作品は どこ に 位置している? 洋画点は?日本画点は?


In college, I majored in oil paintings, so I’d have to say that my m?tier is a "western point."
My "Japanese point" is my line. I really like (Edo period Japanese artist) Itou Jakuchu’s line-drawing style, so I am conscious of that when I am creating my works.

Are the animals in your paintings bunnies?

Yes! The bunny motif is prevalent.

Those animals, are they melting, or evaporating? Or undergoing some other process?
その 動物は。。。溶けるですか?とか、溶解? とか、別の変化? どんな過程ですか?


(when I paint) I include multiple, ambiguous images, so that the viewers have the freedom to imagine many things. If I’m not mistaken, perhaps you can see melting or internal organs.

Additionally, there are clumps and clusters and so on, so it’s not entirely cute. The paintings are crammed full of different imagery.

Is there a backstory behind the paintings?


When I first started, it was the case that I would make up a story (before I started the painting), but usually I start painting with nothing particular in mind. Little by little, the form is manifested in the scene (of the canvas), and the creation of the painting itself becomes the story.

For example?

"out of the hole"の物語は絵のイメージよりも絵が出来る背景に物語があります。

For instance, this painting ("out of the hole") has a backstory as well.

"out of the hole"はちょうど1年前に金沢に住んでいる時に 外は大雪で出歩けず、部屋の中も暖房がなく寒くて精神的にもキツかった時に気分を変えたくて 描きためているドローイング帳から鉛筆で簡単に描いたキノコを持って親指立てたウサギを選んで丸いキャンバスに描いた。

About one year ago when I lived in Kanazawa, there was such a heavy snowfall, one couldn’t walk outside. Moreover my room heating was busted. Besides the physical, it was a mentally trying time also. To get my mind off things, I selected a page from my old drawing notebook — a simple pencil illustration of a rabbit holding some mushrooms and giving a thumbs-up. I decided to paint this on a round canvas, a first for me.

もちろん自分でドローイングした絵なんだけど、「コイツ(キノコ)を食って楽しくなろうぜ!」って言ってるような気がして 描かずにはいられなかった。

Even though I drew it myself, there was something I had not realized about it, until just then– "Those mushrooms, if he eats them, it will be some bad medicine for him!" I realized, before I had even begun painting. That’s why it looks hallucinated!

実はこのタイトルは"BECK"っていうマンガのシーンに 「"out of the hole"は単に穴から抜け出すってことだけじゃなく"辛いところから抜け出す"ってポジティブな意味の言葉なんだ。」ってセリフが、ずっと残ってて今の自分と、丸いキャンバスを穴にみたてたこの絵にぴったりハマってると思って"out of the hole"ってタイトルを付けた。

In fact, the title came from a comic book called BECK. The phrase "out of the hole" doesn’t just mean a rabbit literally popping out of a hole in the ground, it has a more positive meaning, namely, "take the thing which makes you sad and yank it out of you."

It was only afterwards that I realized that the round canvas absolutely fit the "hole" imagery, so I decided to use that title.

Do you think the rabbits enjoy being melted? Or is it painful? or ticklish?
ウサギが 変化を 楽しますか、と思いますか? 苦しいますか? 擽たいと思いますか? 説明をしてくれませんか?


It’s a feeling of unease or anxiety, such as "How did we wind up this way?", isn’t it?

Aside from how it makes the bunnies feel, What is the emotion or theatmosphere of your painting?


Inside one single painting, the panopoly of human emotion (joy, anger, pathos, and humor) is all shown!

Is there something about your themes of your work which can be expressed
with painting but not with other media (CG, photos, performance, etc.)? are you interested in working in other media?
あつしさん の テーマ は "CGで出来ない、パフォマンスで出来ない、写真で出来ないのに 絵ならできる"特徴が ありますか?


I do paintings because that is what I am experienced at. Someday, I’d like to make a 3-d artwork.

If you could collaborate with a musician, who would it be?


(when I was trying to answer that question) I said, "That band!! Them too!!!"too many times, therefore clearly, I can’t decide.
I want to work with a band who has a cool sound and also whose values match mine.

What is the future of contemporary art in japan?
No, wait, that is kind of a lame question.
What is the biggest challenge facing artists in japan, in the future?
日本の コンテンポラリーアートの未来はどうなる思います? 
いやいあや、 その 質問は一般的過ぎる。。。あ、現在の日本のアーチストに一番重要な問題は何ですか?

 ん~…、日本にはコレクターが少ない?! いや、違うな・・・、
【日本】ってくくられると難しい。これは僕個人の問題かもしれないけれど 制作するスタジオを探すのが困難です。あと、英語が喋れない・・・。」

Hmmm. In Japan, there are not so many art collectors. No, that’s not quite right. It’s difficult to generalize about Japan. (the collector issue) is my private, individual problem, I think. But nevertheless, finding an affordable studio is distressing. Also, I don’t speak English.

Who is doing the most daring work in the world now?
最近世界の中で、誰が一番 挑戦的な作品を作っている、と思いますか?

 世界のことは知りませんが、日本では【大竹伸朗 全景 1955-2006】がすご良かった。

I don’t know about art worldwide, but in Japan, Ohtake Shinro was really great. Amazing!!

Finally, if you have anything else to say to your foreign fans, please say it!
最後、 外国のファンに一言お願いします。


By all means, I’d like you to try and view my paintings in the original.
I don’t have a website, but there are two pages where my works can bee seen.


【LOAPS – ロープス】

【@GALLERY タグボート】

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