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Keita SAGAKI: Birthday
Written by Takeshi HIRATA   
Published: December 10 2008

fig. 1 "Across the Universe" (2006) , pen and paint on board, H1350xW1820mm, copyright © 2006 Keita Sagaki / Courtesy of CASHI

fig.2 "Birthday" (2007), pen and paint on board, H162xW162cm, copyright © 2007 Keita Sagaki / Courtesy of CASHI

     Keita Sagaki is a 24 year-old rookie artist, who has started to be recognized all over Japan through the Shell Art Awards Exhibition 2007 and the 11th Liquitex Biennale. Among his artworks exhibited at CASHI this time, “Across The Universe" (2006) [fig.1] and "Birthday" (2007) [fig.2] are especially outstanding in their beauty of composition and drawing. Two to three years after his debut, his artworks have become dramatically sophisticated; his characteristic "drawing" has increased in density as well as outline to become more beautiful and exquisite. This highlights the contrast between the two worlds: daily miscellaneous writings packed into "the inner world" in a disordered manner and the sexually-figured outline dividing it from "the outer world". This contrast seems to emphasize his theme.

     This theme, since his debut, has often been related to "the beginning of life" such as expression of the moment of ejaculation or conception. Inside the outline to express the theme, mundane, varied cartoon-like miniatures, which appear to contrast with the theme, fill the canvas in every direction. We could interpret his criticism as meaning that superiority based on social common sense has no meaning in conception, intercommunication of memory or genes.

     In the artwork named after the Beatles' famous song title, "Across The Universe", the outline imitates the combination of a penis and a vagina, and ordinary themed drawings, for example of historical personages such as John Lennon, Mona Lisa and Edison are compactly packed inside. The disordered drawing, with a sense of flatness and no sense of gravity, stresses intense density. The composition seems to show that fragments of memories inside the man have now spouted within his secretion into the woman. Although the outline is not sufficiently sophisticated, a strong theme and character is still identifiable in this work.

     Basically, he draws miniatures based on a pen-and-ink drawing. Recently in Japan we have seen more and more new young artists who draw miniatures on a large canvas using a pen in spite of the enormous effort required. Manabu Ikeda is an example. Her solo-exhibition was held at the same time at Mizuma Art Gallery. Despite differences in career and generation, these two artists have a common approach in that neither of them prepare precise drafts, but start to fill out the canvas depending on their feelings.*1 (In the case of Sagaki, he starts to draw from one corner of the canvas as if paving the entire piece). Another common point is that they both draw varied kinds of motifs. However, they also have a definite difference with each other which would be worth further discussion.

     In the case of Ikeda, for example in his big artwork, "Prediction" (2008), several motifs co-exist in one canvas and every motif has its own specific situation/story. At the same time, the composition has a macro perspective of prospect/overlook of one world synchronically.

     On the other hand, Sagaki's miniatures have no relationship in time or place, up-and-down or ahead-and-behind. All motifs are packed in a disordered manner, so we cannot feel he intends these motifs to share the same time and the same world. Nevertheless, we feel an extremely regional, at the same time a universal world. If Ikeda's worldview is macro, Sagaki's can be described as micro and this difference might reflect the periods they each belong to.

     Sagaki was born in 1984 and grew in a time when PCs were common even in ordinary households, and the internet has been part of society since his earliest recollections. In a world with too much information, borders and histories between information are not clarified; everything overlaps or lies untidily together. The selection and prioritization of information is the duty of those who enjoy it. For them, this world might be seen as a limitlessly fragmented image, the necessary parts of which are focused on when needed. There is no longer a macro dominant idea or a belief that boundaries can be set between everything such as "in the world" or "in the universe". Ikeda, born in 1973, might belong to the last generation that saw things that way. (Translated by Chisato Kushida)

Mami Kataoka "Age of detail: the condensed universe by Manabu Ikeda" (2008), publication for Manabu Ikeda's solo exhibition, published by Mizuma Art Gallery.
Last Updated on October 09 2016

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