Daisuke Takeya and Contemporary Poetic Sentiment

By FUMIO NANJO, Director of Mori Art Museum


I first met Daisuke Takeya in Toronto. At that time, he brought with him an installation work that fit into a suitcase and some material on his painting. At first glance, the paintings appeared to be monochrome—nothing but blue sky. But then I perceived the outlines of a city along the bottom edge, which piqued my interest. I thought it might have something to do with the vastness of nature in Canada.

After returning to Japan, when the subject of holding an exhibition in the Roppongi Hills Club came up, I immediately suggested Daisuke’s work. I gazed out of the windows of this club on the 51st floor of Roppongi Hills and saw the expansive sky and the Tokyo skyline. It seemed to me that if his sky series were exhibited there, they would create a kind of affinity with the location, a site specific feeling.

We ended up receiving several works from him on loan and exhibited them for about a year. The second half of the exhibition included a Tokyo cityscape with Roppongi, which linked the exhibition even more closely to its site.

His skies are vast. His canvases are mostly sky. There is a city vividly rendered along the bottom edge.   The look of the sky varies from work to work. There is something extremely mechanical and cool about it. Any city in the world could be painted in this style. Each work captures the subtle peculiarities of atmospheric light. Sometimes it is the strong transparent blue of a clear autumn sky, or the fleeting brilliance of the sky turning purple at dusk, and other times, the starry sky and the reflection of the city lights.   Viewers can probably identify which skylines belong to Tokyo, Osaka or Yokohama.   What they all have in common is a somewhat dry, but decidedly contemporary sentiment that savours nature while lamenting its seasonal changes and knows life to be a series of fleeting, singular encounters.

In particular, since the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March, love of nature cannot be taken so simply. To love nature also means accepting its unfathomable power and all of its overwhelming presence, phenomena and will. At the same time, it means knowing our smallness and the bitter-sweet transience of our existence. Painting the sky that changes with each passing moment is an act born out of a reverence for nature that strives continuously, but impossibly to fix and capture its beauty. The tiny buildings under the sky communicate the diminutiveness and weakness of humans. It is a romanticism that harbors a sense of the evanescence of life.   Within the extremely minimal expression of his work, there lie many diverse and contradictory perspectives and meanings.


English translation by Sarah Allen