At first, it was a self-portrait. I tried to make myself—my weak self, my pitiful self, my anxious self—into a joke or something funny that could be laughed at…It was sometimes seen as a parody or satire referring to contemporary people. As I continued to think about this, I expanded it to include consumers, city-dwellers, workers, and the Japanese people.
Ishida came of age as a painter during Japan’s “lost decade,” a time of nationwide economic recession that lasted through the 1990s. In his afflictive paintings, he captured the feelings of hopelessness, claustrophobia, and emotional isolation that burdened him and dominated Japanese society. From his early career until his untimely death in 2005, Ishida provided vivid allegories of the challenges to Japanese life and morale in paintings and graphic works charged with dark Orwellian absurdity.
In nightmarish scenes, suited figures made in Ishida's own likeness but possessing machine or animal parts are depicted being boxed and repaired, like helpless objects. Foreground and background are rendered in equally meticulous detail and this intricate compression of layers intensifies the sense of entrapment. The stoic male subjects seem accustomed to their cyborg limbs and dreary surroundings as they carry on in their shared routine. Some men are fully merged with household objects, reduced to little more than functional but inanimate tools and furniture.
Tetsuya Ishida was born in Yaizu, Shizuoka, Japan in 1973, and died in Tokyo in 2005. Solo museum exhibitions include Sumpu Museum, Shizuoka, Japan (2006); “Tetsuya Ishida: Canvas of Sadness,” Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art (2007); CB Collection, Tokyo (2007); and “Tetsuya Ishida: Self-portraits,” Nerima Art Museum, Tokyo (2008). Selected group exhibitions include “Asian Avant-garde,” Christie’s London (1998); “dis-communication,” Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul (2007); “Chaosmos ‘07: In the Face of Sadness,” Sakura City Museum of Art, Chiba, Japan (2007); and “Tetsuya Ishida and Shizuoka-related Artists,” Hamamatsu Municipal Museum of Art, Shizuoka (2009). A survey exhibition of Ishida’s work, “Notes, Evidence of Dreams,” was on view at Ashikaga Museum of Art this fall, and will travel to Hiratsuka Museum of Art; Tonami Art Museum, Toyama; and Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art (through 2014).
In other news, Rick Owens Fall 2021 fashion show. On the subject of underthings, the pentagram briefs from the January men’s show reappeared here wrapped around evening clutches, the implication being that these alien females had handled the “unhinged male aggression” that those briefs signified.