Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Since I was a kid I've ridden my bike to the Midland art fair almost every summer with my family. Usually my dad will have checked out all the stalls in less than 5 minutes, followed by my brother (under 20), followed by me (maybe an hour), followed by my mom (a full Jovian revolution of the sun). There's something about middle-aged women and art fairs. Anyway I hit one up about a month ago in Komagane City.

“Oh, that's nice.” Putter putter.
“Oh, look at that.” Putter putter.
“I'll bet you could put a lot of things into a jar like that.” Putter, putter...
“Daaaaaaaamn, bitch!” (directed at a girl in a stroller) “Did you see this shit?!”

The booth belonged to Kouya Takahashi, although I didn't ask his name at the time. I did, however, buy a small metal figurine with a lightbulb head as a present. It was about all I could afford among the more extravagant pieces which moved and lit up and rattled. His wife handed me a flyer as per request with my purchase. I made up my mind that I would eventually visit his gallery when I had the time.

On Monday, opportunity struck. I had the day off and submitted to the three hour pilgrimage to Gunma Prefecture. Thankfully, Gunma is one of the more serene landscapes one might be prompted to, in my opinion. The unbroken rain enhanced the drive's mysterious ambiance through thick green mountains. Idris tagged along and we almost made it through the first two Harry Potters on my laptop. Our map was worthless, but we stumbled across the place, somehow. It looked like a shop on Diagon Alley.

As we walked around his cramped space, “Ko” started up gadgets powered by air compressors, flicked on the lights to shoe houses and gave a hanging fish skeleton a few taps to get it going. We were surrounded by the creaking of mechanized driftwood, metal and glass. Hulking shadow pieces cast profiles against the walls. Every item looked like it had been worked by a crazed magician. He told me the inspiration behind most of his creations came from dreams. He probably meant acid. I told him I've been having a lot of vivid dreams myself and offered my sketchbook of current project ideas. He flipped through it and his wife brought out some coffees.

Ko went on to talk about subjects that he seemed to be drawing out of a hat, in no particular order. He expounded upon his various uses for junk, including an old whale bone that he carved out of the beast himself. He told us about how he and his wife were married in an Australian desert, about motorcycle races along the Gold Coast, and subsequent publications of the photos he'd taken. I'm not sure of the publisher, but he hauled out a box full of magazines that he claimed were the destination to both his snapshots and, incidentally, his articles.

During our visit I was struck by something. Mr. Takahashi didn't come off as arrogant, although he readily accepted compliments. He understood that what I had to say about his work was not meant to be taken as flattery, but as truths void of sentiment. The appreciation of others seemed secondary to his own self-appraisal. His sincere integrity was refreshing. Also, a thought occurred to me that at some point, Ko must have chosen not to chose. He didn't finally 'decide what he was going to do with his life'. He's just done everything he's felt compelled to.

I can say that I have been so inspired very few times before.

1 comment:

  1. beautifully written. am happy to have been an accomplice to Neverland in Gunma prefecture :)