“I want to express the events of this world as easily as possible,” says Tokyo-based artist Hisami Tanaka. By using playful graphics and digital techniques, Hisami aims to poke fun at the notions of society, self-representation and our daily lives.
Born in Ibaraki – a Japanese prefecture known for its Kairakeun Park and its blooming plum trees – Hisami graduated from Tama Art University with a major in design. Since then, he’s held multiple solo exhibitions at galleries including the Waiting Room and the Kameido Art Centre, both based in the Japanese capital. He has also presented his work in group shows such as Ultra002 at Spiral, an art centre in Tokyo, as well as the New City Art Fair at the hpgrp gallery in New York.
Thinking about the first time he put pen to paper, Hisami remembers his grandmother, “who was good at drawing,” he says. Additionally, he recalls a time in school when he “saw Neo-Expressionism in a book and started to be aware of contemporary art.” Because of this somewhat creative upbringing and natural exposure to the artistic realms, Hisami was able to work and define his own artistic style.
“I want to show that the world is actually very simple,” he says. Achieved by evaluating its “comical aspects”, Hisami takes a look at the “phenomena” from a “bird’s-eye view” and, of course, mixes it with a hint of humour. At first, he collects his thoughts and creates a digital draft, then he transfers his initial creation to the canvas with acrylic paint. “I make works that are an extension of everyday life,” he says. “I can also paint pictures while chatting with my family.”
The end result sees simple lines mixed with block colours and a rather naive approach. Disconcerting at first, Hisami’s work gives the impression that these images are perhaps meaningless or created without significance. But really, there’s much more depth than you might think. One image sees two happy people about to embrace; another sees a person at work, wheeling a trolly with various items on board; a further sees a happy yet solitary cat-like creature standing in a bleak environment. Here, themes of love, relationships and our societal roles are explored – perhaps Hisami looks to these paintings to present his view of the world, or a means of understanding of what’s around us. Or perhaps there’s no reason at all.