Machida Takeru Solo Exhibition "POP・ALONE."
2022.09.02(Fri) – 2022.09.07(Wed)
YUGEN Gallery hosted a solo exhibition by Machida Takeru called POP・ALONE from Friday, September 2 through Wednesday, September 7.
Iconic Pop Icons
Characters stare coldly at the viewer, eyes, narrowed in a gaze that seem to carry their whole attention. This look, called "jito-me" in Japanese, is typically used in comics or animation as a way to express a character's personality. Here, Machida Takeru adapts it with a poppy touch to allow viewers to intuit a story in each single image that they can use to create a sequence that mirrors their own lived experience.
The 1970s saw economic turmoil from the oil embargo and social problems like pollution come to light. The 1980s dawned with a sense of anticipation, of hope that the next ten years would bring a blossoming of light after those turbulent days, but also a sense of fundamental resignation. The POP・ALONE exhibition invokes "pop" as something that accompanies individuals who are struggling to move forward in a harsh society, as if superimposing a feeling of those times and cultures. A total of 20 pieces featuring jito-me pop icons will be on display and sold as giclée.*1
Machida Takeru was born in 1986 in Shizuoka Prefecture. Currently based in Nagoya, Machida engages in a variety of creative endeavors, including corporate collaborations as a graphic designer. His artistic awakening came in the United States, where he lived until the age of 10.
"We went to America when I was very young. I couldn't speak any English at all and couldn't understand my classes, so I often just sat drawing doodles in my notebook. My classmates really complimented the drawings, and I started to feel that even if I couldn't communicate in words, I could do it through pictures." This experience left a strong impression, and revealed how visual representation can open the doors of perception.
His parents often took him to art galleries and museums when they lived in the U.S. One day, he stumbled on the work of Andy Warhol and the experience shocked him. The light of pop art bathed his whole body, bringing a bright expression totally different from the traditional Western painting he'd seen before. From that point, he began to nurture creative sensibilities in pop culture, like comics, animation, movies, record jackets, and street fashion.
However, after his return to Japan from the U.S., life changes like the divorce of his parents led him to develop a cold view of others, including his family and society.
"When I came back and started life as a returnee in Japan, I sensed all these differences in culture and community, and started to view world events and life around me one step removed, like I was watching a movie. I felt trapped in emptiness, unable to enter any of the circles around me."
Between consideration for oneself and openness to others
Even as he says pop culture saved him, he also developed a cynical outlook that grew thick as armor to defend him from the absurdities of life. That is connected to social consciousness because of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. that occurred when he was 15 years old. The city of New York, once so familiar, was covered in rubble and dust. It revealed the true proximity to his own life of world events, which once seemed like distant fiction, and he began to see the incompatibility between the gaze of an outside third party and that of a witness.
"There are all kinds of things in the world you'll never understand from a single perspective, so all we can do at times of such great change is to be flexible in our perspectives and positions, then come back to ourselves. All you can do is continue that," he says. The narrow-eyed jito-me gaze is often interpreted as something doubtful and sarcastic in pop culture. In Machida's work, though, it is measuring "fleeting" distance set at a certain level.
The works depict only one character at a time. However, the effective depiction of light entering from outside the frame makes us imagine the existence of others, and shows that even a single person has an immeasurable distance between their inner and outer selves. And it can be said that while thinking of connection and solidarity, we find hope in the distance between consideration for oneself and regard for others.
Living carefree in a complex world
Marx, who is once again drawing attention as we reassess the relationship between capitalism and society, refers to the natural environment, social infrastructure such as transportation and communication, and social institutions such as education and healthcare all as common assets. He says that citizens accessing and managing those common assets in their own appropriate ways to build a prosperous society equals communism. It is a foundation for solidarity in which we regain our true power to each live life to the fullest, as seen recently when citizens have begun to make rules around the world about issues like human rights, climate change, and banning nuclear weapons.
However, living in a diverse society means that there will always be the issue of coexisting with those who have values that are difficult to accept, and misunderstandings can lead to further misunderstandings. There is also the danger of being consumed by deeply uncomfortable public opinion. Reality lies in in the lightness with which characters confront the situation, or sometimes run away to return when the time is right.
Machida keeps his art based on the theme "pop and ephemeral." At the personal level, he speaks of "being depressed but wanting to live a pop lifestyle," and aims for communism by means of pop as lightness.
We all have different likes and affinities, and we all have our own biases. Although we will never have a world without conflict, people can live in their own way without having values imposed on them by anyone or anything. As Machida tries to look at society and the brighter side of the people who come and go in it, his jito-me characters remain deep because of their complexity, and fresh because of their variation.
*1: Giclée: from the French gicleur. A method to reproduce digital data of the original artwork on the best materials such as high-quality canvas, print paper, high-quality photo paper, or Japanese washi paper in high definition and with a wide color gamut. The archival quality of the prints, which are supervised by the artist himself and finished in collaboration with a print technician, has attracted much attention in recent years.
Note: Some works on display may change. We appreciate your understanding.
At the same time as the exhibition is held, it will be possible to view and purchase the works on the YUGEN Gallery official online store.
THE MOVIE ROASTER at Coffee & Laundry in Hong Kong
Something Between Us at OFF THE RECORD in Nagoya
Anima at YK Presents in Seoul, Korea
Capital in the Anthropocene, by Kohei Sato
Illustrator, painter, and graphic designer. Machida Founded a gallery as a designer with the studio Openends, and after working with several other design studios went independent in 2018. Beyond design and illustration for a wide range of media, he also joins exhibitions and events in Japan and around the world, and produces original goods.Go to author page