Spotlight On: Akira Ikezoe

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Akira Ikezoe was born in 1979 in Kochi, Japan and is a multi-disciplined artist who work and exhibits in New York. Akira dips his toes into many artistic waters including drawing, painting, sculpture and animation. He graduated from the Tama University of Art in 2003 and has been presented with a myriad of awards since then. Most of Akira’s work deals with what makes us human and the factors and influences that we recognise as being a part of ourselves. Akira wasn’t groomed from infancy for a career in the arts as many of his peers and instead was in love with ‘The Beautiful Game’ until his late teens, but never once considered turning professional.

“I believe art is like an umbilical cord. A connection between “Mother Nature” – or whatever name we might use to refer to that force we may think of as outside or before ourselves- and the “civilizing” of ourselves through the act of making art. In my work, I struggle to balance the desire to become more fully realized as a craftsman, and an urge to “unlearn” all my art knowledge, and see the world through the eyes of an “animal”. ie. urge for food, sleep, sex, etc. In my paintings I strive to find this “space” between man, culture, art and these other animal instincts.”- Akira’s artist statement from MoMA’s Studio Vist series.

Akira is also a prolific reader and sites many of influences as being literary rather than other artists either from the past or present. Given the subjects that he covers in his art concerning the human condition it’s not surprising that the book that hs had the biggest influence on his career is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ ‘The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Erendira and Her Soulless Grandmother’.

In an interview with The Reading Lists he explains why it was so captivating, saying “I read this when I was 23 or 24 and for me this was the first meeting with Latin American literature. Since I didn’t have any preliminary knowledge about this genre, I was amazed and fascinated by these strange characters, the way of using words and the way of grasping this world even though I read in Japanese. After that, I learned that it’s called Magical Realism, but the impact on me while reading was enormous and I’m still reading this genre every once in a while.”

Akira has a serene drawing style that focuses on poignant, delicate lines that belie the juxtaposition of many his works. He will sometimes even place paper over a previous drawing and intentionally lead the lines away from its original composition. He looks at art the same way as storming a castle, ”What I’m doing with art is just like trying to invade a castle which has many gates. No matter which gate I choose, the final destination is probably the same. Once I break in through a gate, I can open other gates from the inside, but there is always another level of closed gates to go deeper inside. Each medium has different properties. They work as the keys to open the gates.”

You can find more of Akira’s work here.