There exists a world invisible to our eyes. Artist Shinya Imanishi offers a fresh perspective to people through this "unseen realm." His vibrant canvases stimulate our imaginations, speaking directly to us. His journey as an artist began when he decided to pursue an art degree in middle school. "Since childhood, I loved drawing. With a desire to continue creating, I decided to attend an art university in middle school. By the time I entered graduate school, having experienced the realities of the art world, I recommitted to making a life within it."
The Importance of Expressing the "Presence" of Objects
One can perceive a theme interweaving the visible and the invisible in Imanishi’s works. "Throughout my creative process, I felt the need to express the three-dimensionality and presence of objects. This led me to explore the gap between vision and cognition," he explains. This interest traces back to his childhood experiences, notably a Boy Scout event at Nara's Kasuga-taisha Shrine. "I felt comforted in the darkness of the shrine grounds, devoid of streetlights. The allure of the reality within the unseen has stayed with me, as I vividly recall that memory. This inspired me to visualize the invisible through painting."
Inspiration Wavering Between the Visible and Invisible
The motifs, designs, and inspirations in his works emanate from his desire to visualize both the seen and unseen. Specifically, he employs images like clouds, fireworks, lightning, and candles, and concepts such as light and space. "The world lacks definitive answers. I found reality and allure in this ambiguity and began to reflect it in my artworks," says Imanishi.
In the "moonlight" series, paint is layered thickly on the canvas and dotted with a brush, creating an effect where, from a distance, certain images appear and disappear. As one steps away from the work, the emerging imagery evokes concepts of change, disappearance, decay, rebirth, and resurgence, symbolizing the intertwined relationship of life (beginning) and death (end). By exploring the relationship between materials, imagery, perspectives, and distances, he aims to highlight the vagueness and uncertainty of our commonly held perceptions.
Another characteristic of his work is the attempt to express senses beyond sight. Regarding his "Holiday cracker" series exhibited in Tokyo Gendai, Imanishi states, "When one sees a cracker, it might evoke personal happy memories. While these memories aren't easily shared, creating a space where they are communicated is intriguing." His inspirations are derived from personal experiences, special effects films, Buddhist philosophy, and Eastern philosophy. "I am drawn to artworks where one can recognize the individual artist. I believe that when someone sees my work, they can instantly identify it as mine because of the unique individuality embedded in it." Imanishi's artworks uniquely reflect his style and philosophy.
The Creation of "Glimmering"
The iconic "Glimmering" series focuses on space, which has been Imanishi’s main project over the past year. To him, space in painting is pivotal. He elaborates on his process, "I represent space using gradation and use brushes and custom boards to create points. These points, instead of simple squares, employ various spatial forms like radiographic perspectives, connecting lines to create or disrupt space. I believe when humans observe this, it seems to flicker. Digging into still-wet paint sometimes flips the underlying layers, and I've created this series to represent ripples from a single space.
Recently, we're frequently exposed to multiple images or videos simultaneously swapping in our field of view — a phenomenon absent two decades ago. This series precisely tries to capture that spatial awareness."
The Struggle with Paint and the Essence of the Creative Process
While Imanishi prepares preliminary sketches, the direction often gets established during the actual creation. "When I begin the artwork, I hang the wet canvas and project guide lines onto it, crafting it in one go. Occasionally, I deviate from the initial plan. There are also moments when the paint doesn't yield the desired color, leading to a tug-of-war with the medium. Such challenges are the true essence of painting."
Vision for the Future
His next project is a group exhibition at nichido contemporary art(nca) in Roppongi, starting August 25. This is the first exhibition where Imanishi curates, and he admits, "I'm nervous since it's my first time curating." His dream is "to someday hold a solo exhibition at the Tate Museum." Imanishi's future works will surely continue exploring the interplay between the visible and invisible, pushing the boundaries of visual art.
[Name] Kansai Voice vol.2
[Period] August 25th (Fri), 2023 - September 22nd (Fri), 2023
[Artists] Inoue Ami / Inoue Nanami / Imanishi Shinya / Kawamura Mana / Yonemura Yuto
[Venue] nca I nichido contemporary art (102, 7-21-24 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo)
[Collaboration] KOTARO NUKAGA, Curation by Shinya Imanishi