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Masashi ASADA: The Asada Family - AKAAKA, Aka-chan
Written by Satoshi KOGANEZAWA   
Published: May 02 2009

fig. 1 from the exhibition "The Asada Family - AKAAKA, Aka-chan" at AKAAKA

fig. 2 from the exhibition "The Asada Family - AKAAKA, Aka-chan" at AKAAKA

fig. 3 from the exhibition "The Asada Family - AKAAKA, Aka-chan" at AKAAKA

fig. 4 “The Asada family” in February 15, 2009 in Shimane © Masashi ASADA copy right(c) Masashi ASADA

fig. 5 “The Masumoto Family” in February 22, 2009 in Kochi © Masashi ASADA copy right(c) Masashi ASADA

     “The Asada Family - AKAAKA, Aka-chan” which is a solo exhibition of Masashi Asada, who won a prize in the 2009 Ihei Kimura Photographic Award, is held at AKAAKA, which is located in Kiyosumishirakawa (16/Apr/2009-17/May/2009). AKAAKA is an exhibition space which was obtained by a photo book publisher called AKAAKA ART PUBLISHING INC. in April 2009. It is the same location as Makoto Azuma’s private gallery (AMPG), which operated for two years, from April 2007 to March 2009. Basically, the interior design of AKAAKA has not been changed from that of AMPG, and even a book rack, which has been at the entrance of the exhibition space since it belonged to AMPG, is effectively used as a showcase in which books published by AKAAKA ART PUBLISHING INC. are displayed.

     When I entered the exhibition hall, I was surprised at the ornaments which were trailing down from one space to another, which I have not seen in galleries or art museums before [fig.1]. I apologise for not telling you about Asada’s photographs first, but I would like to refer to the other works displayed, as they comprise the most important element of this exhibition. In the exhibition room, in addition to the ornaments mentioned above, brightly-colored artificial flowers [fig.2] are laid on the floor, there are crafted spiders and stars with faces hanging from the ceiling, and a large-sized picture which seems to have been created using watercolor paints is displayed on the wall [fig.3]. There is a poster politely explaining that the picture was painted by Akira (father), the American flowers (artificial flowers) were made by Junko (mother), the flames and light boxes were created by Yukihiro (elder brother), the spiders and stars were crafted by Kazuko (elder brother’s wife) and the photographs were taken by Masashi (younger brother). Thus, this exhibition is made up of contributions from five members of the Asada family who participate not only as photographic subjects as but also as exhibitors. Such a directorial technique makes the photographs taken by Masashi Asada more warm-hearted than usual. Therefore, I have to correct the aforementioned title, “a solo exhibition of Masashi Asada”, as follows: “an exhibition of the Asada family”.

     Now, let me introduce the talk between Eiichiro Oda and Takehiko Inoue (both are comic artists). In this interview, Oda answers the question, “Is it entertainment that you want to provide ultimately?” as follows:

“For me, that’s it exactly. Drawing cartoons has enormous significance in entertaining readers. If my cartoons cannot entertain readers, I myself cannot enjoy drawing them. I don’t know what other comic artists think about the significance of their work, but it is my obligation as a comic artist not only to provide enjoyment for readers but also to entertain myself. I have never doubted the importance of entertaining readers.”*1

     I recognize this answer as the ideal statement of an entertainer and I suppose that the Asada family are also entertainers of a similar type to Oda. Wouldn’t you think so? We never find a negative image in Asada’s pictures. Nobody is hurt, suffers or cries after looking at his pictures. Although different to the set of pictures entitled “The Asada family” (AKAAKA ART PUBLISHING INC., 2008), the subjects of his pictures displayed in this exhibition are family members - albeit not in the Asada family. Most people in his pictures have a smile on their faces [fig.4] and even if not all of the people in a picture are smiling, as in the picture entitled “The Masumoto Family”, the scene in which the picture was taken gives us a warm image [fig.5]. Why? Is it because these are pictures of all the family? I do not know whether this is true or not. However, if there were no love among family members, his pictures would not give viewers such a warm-hearted image, notwithstanding the fact that they are stage-managed. Needless to say, the people in his pictures are not perfect models who are always smiling. Sometimes people hurt others, and at other times they are hurt by others’ bad intentions, and I do not blame people for making such things the themes of their pictures or photographs. Nevertheless, the noteworthy point of this exhibition is that Asada’s pictures affect us because he is sincerely trying to express the importance of focusing on “happiness” (though it may be an illusion) in the present day, when we tend to think negatively. This exhibition is worth visiting.
(Translated by Nozomi Nakayama)

“Special interview: part1_Eiichiro Oda”, “Takehiko Inoue PIA”, p.36, PIA, 2009
Last Updated on September 22 2010

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