Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Neglected Important Artist, No. 35

Manabu Ikeda

Manabu Ikeda was born in Taku city, Saga, Japan, in 1973. In 1993, he graduated from the department of Design of the Tokyo University of the Arts. He received a Master of Art degree from the same institution in 2000.  In 2010, he was awarded an Emerging Artist Overseas Study Grant to work and study in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In 2013, he moved to Madison, Wisconsin, U.S., where he currently lives.

Ikeda's art work is amazing. They are the most detailed pen and ink drawings in color I have ever seen. And his images are mesmerizing. His drawings are so dense that they often take a couple of years to complete. Usually, after a solid eight hours of work, he has only completed 10 square centimeters.

Ikeda is always thinking about his art. Sometimes he sees images when he is doing something mundane, like having a meal with friends, he says. In his universe, anything could happen. He even doesn't know what the image is going to look like by the time he completes a drawing. Nevertheless, he needs something to start with, such as wanting to draw water or forest. He allows himself to be carried away by his imagination until a work is more or less half done, which is usually after a year or so of intense work. Then he starts thinking about the whole image, and spends another year of hard work to finish it off.

The more you look at his images, the more you see what is happening within. You see airplanes, samurais, Japanese castles, trains, lighthouses, animals, fish, waterfalls, cartoon characters and so on. It is just staggering to realize what is in the image. Some of the images he has to look up to see how they actually should look. He doesn't want them to be just the product of his imagination. He wants to give them a concrete sense of reality. 

Ikeda has exhibited his work internationally. When his pieces were a part of the Japanese group exhibition called "Bye bye, kitty!!!" in New York, The New York Times  printed one of his images on a full half page, which made his art dealer ecstatic. At the time, Ikeda didn't quite get how significant that is for an artist. He appears to be modest in spite of his success.

After his work had appeared in The New York Times, there have major changes in his career. The curator from the Metropolitan Museum in New York came to meet Manabu. He offered not only to purchase his work, but to offer him an exhibition at the museum.

His  piece, Foretoken, which took two years for him to finish is the image of a tsunami sweeping everything away, just like the massive tsunami that hit Japan's Northern Pacific Coast . As a result, however, the plan to exhibit this particular work has been cancelled because it looks too real. 

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Mananu Ikada at Work

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Works by Mananu Ikada

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