How to capture the fleeting memory of our lives with illustrator Takashi Nakamura
“I feel that when I am gone, the landscapes I have seen will disappear with my memories, will be changed and forgotten, and will become something that never happened.”
- Joey Levenson
- 24 March 2022
The work of Tokyo-based illustrator Takashi Nakamura first caught our eye way back in 2017 with its exquisite line drawings and careful attention to detail, inspired by manga, cartoons and fine art. “My visual influences are Fujiko Fujio and Mizuki Shigeru in manga,” he tells It’s Nice That. “In terms of painting, I like Van Gogh.” The diversity of references is certainly palpable in Takashi’s scenes, as swirls of colour and graphic characters and shapes come to life in fleeting moments of still life. Since we last caught up with him, Takashi’s solo exhibitions have continued to grow. “The theme of my solo exhibition this year was ‘travel’,” he says. “Until then, I wanted to paint the past and familiar things, but I wanted to step out of that and paint the outside world that I have seen and the moments that I felt there.”
It’s no surprise that Takashi’s work also remains highly commissionable. They’re acutely effective in displaying emotion and continue to mesmerise the masses. “When I'm commissioned to do a job, I try to understand what is required of me and try to do as much or as little as possible to exceed it,” he explains. “On the other hand, I continue to work on my own, making paintings freely and having solo exhibitions.” As Takashi has honed his practice over many years, he finds painting an increasingly therapeutic practice. “I paint because I want to record my everyday life, as I see it or have seen it, in my own pictures,” he says. “I feel that when I am gone, the landscapes I have seen will disappear with my memories, will be changed and forgotten, and will become something that never happened.” To capture these memories, Takashi keeps a close eye on his ever-fleeting surroundings. “Now, in terms of the way I paint, I feel that it’s more dense and more passionate.”
One piece in particular which stands out to us is Flowers in a car, for its blend of chiaroscuro and bright pastel colours, creating a beautiful scene reminiscent of Studio Ghibli or vintage manga (the latter of which is a direct inspiration for Takashi). “I wanted to make the viewer wonder where I was going with the flowers,” the illustrator explains. “I thought it would be nice if they could imagine if they were going to celebrate, visit a grave, or go somewhere and get some flowers.” The sun, the final touch, is placed “far away and high in the sky” and loses itself in the “dot-like ripples to show how far away it is and how wide the sky is.” As Takashi’s work continues to flourish in this direction, we remain excited for his next solo exhibition and interpretations of memory and life.
Takashi Nakamura: The Sound of Mountains (Copyright © Takashi Nakamura, 2021)
About the Author
Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. He was part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.