Outsider Takeya looks in/ Japanese artist bridges cultures in works full of double meanings

By DAVID JAGER ~ March 20-27, 2008 ~ NOW MAGAZINE


The current retrospective of installation, video, sculpture and painting by Daisuke Takeya takes a broad look at an artist whose practice hinges on all kinds of double meanings.

A native of Japan who divides his time between Japan, Canada and New York, he deploys his masterful traditional realism for conceptual ends and draws on his perennial outsider status to create work that uses imagery and language to probe social and urban contexts.

The painting series and video Everybody Loves You emerged out of the way New Yorkers said his name; when mispronounced, it means “I love you” in Japanese. The paintings pair faces and landscapes, while the video consists of individuals declaring, “I love you” to a video camera. Both the diptychs and the video are attempts at intense psychological portraiture and comprehension of North American attitudes about love.

Takeya’s extremely skilled landscape painting disguised as serene colour-field abstractions take up two main rooms.

Except for a small scrap of detailed cityscape along the bottom, almost all of these canvases is given over to sky, playing abstraction against meticulous realism.

The Japanese character that names the series, Kara, can be read to mean both emptiness and sky, adding another double meaning to the artist’s juxtaposition of realism and abstraction.

The bifurcation factor extends to his large reproduction of a clay sculpture made by an elementary school student. Here, Takeya examines the divide between childhood and adult ideas of beauty and how they might possibly converge.

The show demonstrates how a mature artist can use the gulf between cultures as a starting point for compelling, inquiring work.