Interview with Masashi Ishitani 2020

Masashi Ishitani will hold a solo exhibition from July 10 (Fri.), 2012.
We asked him about it!

-Please tell us about the theme of your solo exhibition.
This time, I focused on animals and landscapes.
I also tried my hand at circular works.
-I have been drawing deformed works for a long time, but this is the first time I have seen circular works.
What prompted me to take on the challenge was actually a suggestion from someone.
When we were discussing the contents of my solo exhibition, he suggested that I make the main part of the exhibition circular.
My gut instinct told me that I wanted to try it, so I accepted the challenge, and I like it better than I expected.
I think people often have a sharp and rigid image of my work, but I feel that the circular shape softens it considerably.

Row” Enso No. 30

-What is the meaning of the subtitle “Deep in Memory”?

I would like to create works that deeply evoke my memories of landscapes and animals that I have actually seen, not only through visual elements, but also through sounds, smells, breath, temperature, and time.

I put these thoughts into the subtitle.

-Where does the inspiration for your work come from?

I think a lot about this and that, but I also think intuition is very important.
I cherish those chance encounters that make me think, “Oh, I want to paint that.


-In this context, “Rest” 4F is a motif that you have never seen before.

Why did you choose this motif?

As in your “Row” series, I am attracted to a situation in which a series of objects of the same shape are connected in succession.

I was first impressed by a fan-shaped garage that I covered during a solo exhibition in Taiwan several years ago, and I have long wanted to paint it someday.

As well as the shape of the motif, I felt that the colors of the scenery matched my own sense of the world, and I also have a longing for this period in time.

This is the first time I have tried it.

Rest” M4

-Do you have a different approach to creating animals and landscapes?

Rather than a difference between animals and landscapes, there may be a difference in the sense of distance from the motifs.

In the “Row” series, in which landscapes and groups of animals are the theme, I feel as if I am observing from afar.

In contrast, when I paint a single animal, I feel as if I am having a dialogue with that animal.

But either way, since the motifs are images from my own memory, I am probably still giving form to myself.

Foggy Dream” Enzou No. 3

We really want to have stability, but nature has a mechanism that doesn’t allow us to do so.

The rainbow lights up, the moon and stars shine, and there is activity.

They are moving around because they want to be stable, because they want to be stable.

It’s moving because it wants something, and it’s moving because it wants life force.


I believe that everything is balance, or too much balance is boring.

It is like a seesaw, and I think it is interesting to try to keep the balance while falling down here and there.

This is what I am thinking as I create each day.
-Have there been any changes in your state of mind during the course of your production?

Not only in production, but I often think about what is necessary and what is useless.


-Did you have any triggers for thinking about this?

There are many things to think about and many triggers, but I especially thought about it during the period of self-restraint due to the declared state of emergency caused by the coronavirus.

My scheduled exhibitions were canceled, and my side business of teaching was also closed.

I was really shut-in for two months because I could not go out unnecessarily.

But on the contrary, by not going out, I was able to spend more time on each piece of work, and I was able to proceed with each step at my own pace.

I was able to calmly think about how much I had sacrificed my own pace in the past because I was so busy with deadlines.

My pace is very important to me, and I began to rethink how I use my time.


-Did you see any changes in your work?

I feel that my work has become more and more minimalist as a result of this state of mind.

As a result, I feel that my paintings have become quieter and more personal.


-I feel that the reduced number of colors has created a different kind of tranquil atmosphere than before.

With the decrease in the number of colors, I have become even more focused on each individual color.

Therefore, I have become more careful about the layering and thickness of the paints.

I guess you could call it a sense of tension. I create my works as if I were playing shogi (Japanese chess).

Column” WSM

-Are there any new challenges you would like to take on in the future?

I reconfirmed my original idea that the foundation of painting is drawing.

I think I must put even more effort into drawing and challenge myself to create new works in the future.

I believe that we must not only talk about how to use time, but we must also pin down necessity and futility in the creation of Japanese-style paintings.


-Why did you go back to the basics?

Unlike oil paintings, it is difficult to correct a work that has gone wrong with Japanese painting materials.

Even if you correct the work, traces of that work often remain, which is why planning is so important.

In the process of creating a Japanese-style painting, I think the most important part of the planning process is a sketch (daishitaizu) that is the same size as the main painting.

The question is how much work to put into this large sketch.

I have a tendency to get bored, so I had a feeling that if I worked too hard on the sketch, I would run out of steam on the main painting.

However, by taking the time to work on the large size sketch, I realized that I had underestimated the importance of the large size sketch.

The large sketch is the name for a manga artist.

Most cartoonists would finish a rough sketch, and that is how I did it.

In my case, however, I think it is necessary to finalize the rough sketch to the stage where it can be called a “pencil work.

On the other hand, I think intuitive work is also necessary, so it is difficult to find a balance….

I am going to challenge myself to find the answer to this question.

When I did the pencil drawing of Amabie during my self-restraint, I also wanted to try to make a Japanese-style painting using it as a rough sketch.


-Please give a final message to those who will see your exhibition.

Thank you very much for coming to my exhibition in these times.

I have been painting until now, believing that art is a great power for the survival of mankind.

I would be happy if you could sit on a chair in the gallery and slowly feel the atmosphere created by my works.

It is still a small effort, but I hope that I can be of some help to those who have seen my works.

Thank you, Professor. Ishitani!

The solo exhibition will open on Friday, July 10.

Please take this opportunity to visit the exhibition.

For past interviews, please click here↓.

Masashi Ishitani Japanese Painting Exhibition -The Depths of Memory

Friday, July 10 – Sunday, July 19

Venue: Gallery Seek
Artist:Masashi Ishitani

Artist Visits:July 10 (Fri), 17 (Fri), 18 (Sat), 19 (Sun), 13:00-17:00 each day

Masashi Ishitani studied Japanese-style painting at Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music, and continues to present his work at the Inten Exhibition. Using mainly animals as motifs, Ishitani depicts a serene world view, somewhere between reality and dreams, through the expression of light and darkness. He says, “I really want to be stable, but nature has a system that doesn’t allow me to be so. The rainbow lights up, the moon and stars shine, and there is activity. They are moving around because they want stability, because they want to be stable. This is his first solo exhibition at Gallery Seek. We hope you will take this opportunity to view her works.