An Autonomous and Catalytic "Black" that Highlights the Reality We Face | Yudai Takeuchi Interview


Yudai Takeuchi 《doubt》 2023, 73.0 × 91.0 cm, oil on canvas on panel

With bold, dancing brushstrokes and vivid colors that seem to embody the vitality emitted by the human body, Yudai Takeuchi instantly draws viewers into his inner world. His latest challenge is his first exhibition at the Whitestone Ginza New Gallery. Why has this young artist, born in the year 2000, embraced the theme of "the fear of aging," a universal sentiment that inevitably touches everyone? Furthermore, how did he develop his striking existential coloring style that resonates so deeply with viewers? We sat down with him to uncover the answers.

The torrent in seconds

ー Tell us about the themes and inspiration behind your artworks.

Takeuchi: The theme of my works is "the fear of aging". My sexuality has played a big part in the circumstances that led me to this theme. I am gay, and when you live in the gay community, you often face various issues related to age. Examples include the lookism and ageism prevalent in dating apps, and the worry of not having children to look after you in your old age. Japan currently has no legal system in place for same-sex marriage, so unlike heterosexuals, homosexuals have to deal with growing old while being unable to advance to the next stage of life, even if we wanted to. My paintings right now serve as a place where I can vent the emotions I feel from these circumstances.

As for my sources of inspiration, I often find inspiration from the scenery of my current home of Saitama, as well as those of the Philippines, where my mother is from.

At the artist's studio

ー What kind of elements or approach do you focus on when creating artworks?

Takeuchi: The specific elements I focus on vary from painting to painting, but the composition is consistently an important aspect to me. For oil paintings, I focus on bringing out the material beauty and richness of expression inherent in oil paints, while striving to make the scenes, lighting, and motifs I depict as interesting as possible.

Yudai Takeuchi 《doubt》 2023, 73.0 × 91.0 cm, oil on canvas on panel

ー Tell us about your artwork entitled "doubt".

Takeuchi: When I was young, I often eagerly rushed to play outside whenever it snowed. The fact that something so cold falls from the sky, the way the snow melted as soon as I scooped it up, and the tingling feeling it gave my hands – everything about it felt novel and mysterious to me.

But now, I understand the principles behind why snow forms, why it falls from the sky, and why it melts when touched. Even when it tingles in my hands, I simply think of it as a matter of course. Moreover, when I consider how it causes train delays or how it forces me to do snow shoveling, I have come to find snow to be rather troublesome.

As we age, we gain insights into the reasons behind life's events and find ourselves constrained by societal norms and perspectives. This collective influence can sometimes limit the richness of our lives. However, despite this evolution, I maintain the capacity for doubt. Even though I can't return to a state of innocence regarding established frameworks and principles, I believe that questioning remains a powerful tool for personal growth and understanding.

I want the people who see this artwork to question what is considered to be obvious or the correct way of doing things. I want them to adopt a mindset of perpetual doubt, questioning assumptions and norms. This sentiment inspired my choice of the title "Doubt."

ー What has been the biggest challenge in your art career?

Takeuchi: My biggest challenge is a very basic one, and that is how I can continue to earn a living and maintain a healthy lifestyle while creating art.

When I am making a painting, I often feel anxious about how it will turn out, or I become reluctant to keep going after overthinking the next steps. In these moments, I remind myself that this painting is just one among many I'll create in my lifetime. Embracing this sense of resignation paradoxically allows me to give my best effort at that particular moment.

Yudai Takeuchi 《bush》 2022, 130.5 × 162.0 cm, oil on canvas on panel

ー The color black exudes a particularly strong presence in your works. What is the meaning behind the black in your paintings?

Takeuchi: The black that I depict in my paintings represents a space-time continuum that is separate from the one we live in. It is an "autonomous" kind of black inside which time passes by in a unique way, and every phenomenon that occurs is self-contained. It is a condensed universe in itself, so to speak.

Compositing this condensed universe of black with everyday scenery is my attempt to comparatively reevaluate the space-time continuum we live in. Just like the Japanese manga series, Doraemon's "The Anywhere Door" (a special door that has been used to move instantaneously between places), I've discovered the black's significance as a portal, allowing instant transition from one painting's scene to another. It serves as a common thread, seamlessly connecting and tying together these disparate moments.

At the artist's studio

"The fear of aging" is something that penetrates differing domains of Takeuchi's universe: the innocent susceptibility he recalls from his childhood (the past), the real-life feeling of constantly accumulating daily experiences (the present), and the foreboding sense of discomfort from being driven into conformity with society and others (the future). Our world has a tendency to become extremely subjective, and he highlights it in relative terms through the infinity of an "autonomous black". The inclusion of some kind of pain in whatever he depicts undoubtedly stems from how his creative approach is directly connected to the way he lives his life.

"The torrent in seconds", a duo exhibition by Yudai Takeuchi and Kisho Kakutani, will be held at the Whitestone Ginza New Gallery from April 27th to May 25th. Check out the link below for details.

The torrent in seconds

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