Ryuichiro Otake

I’ve come to use iPad to produce most of my works.


I had lived in a 30 mat atelier [1 mat = 180 x 90cm], where I could do anything, thanks to the broad space and kindness of a landlord. But since I could try whatever I wanted, it seemed to have blurred the core of my art-making. The room was getting filled with works I failed to complete, eventually piling up to a ton of garbage. I had to go back and forth between the room and a waste disposal plant more than ten times until the room became empty. Dumping materials untouched since the DIY store cashier into a void, I thought of keeping away from things for a while. Then I decided to move to a one-room apartment in Kanda, to limit my working environment to a desk alone.


Naturally, I came to paint on a computer. Although I had already occasionally used a pen tablet for almost 10 years, I turned more serious about painting digitally.


There is much difference between what I paint on a computer and on an iPad. I bought an iPad to paint outdoor as well, but I nearly gave it up because touch screen worked so differently.


I came back to iPad after toying with it along with my artist friend, Ichiro Isobe. Within a few days of painting on the tablet, I found it to be compatible with improvisation. I can feel my physical sense reach to the screen more intimately as an image directly follows my fingers. Through further trials with improvisation, I finally found the style of recent works, with lines turning around on a surface. Initially, I expected to make a handprint by putting my hand on the screen. Lifting my hand off, however, I found a result beyond my expectation—the hand on the screen caused multiple simultaneous inputs, leaving an image of random lines.


Not only do those lines run erratically, but also the screen repeats teleportation-like move in all directions with various scaling, leaving me almost no room for control. The only judgement I’m allowed is the timing I leave my hand off from the touch screen.


I create my works by trying to slip my intention into such uncontrollable phenomena. This results in images somewhere between my own creation and automatism. The image can be seen as my handprint since it traces the shape of my hand, somewhat proving my existence, but with glitch generated in the process. I use this random behavior to produce paintings that resemble convoluted colorful pipes. I employ skills I’ve acquired through exploring this method to randomly input colors and line-shapes like a DJ scratching records. Resulting images look like huge structures, and the mass of entangled pipe-like objects reminds me of old sci-fi films image boards.


It takes 3 to 10 minutes to have a work done. I work as a guard in Saitama, spending 3 hours in total commuting on a train, which I often use for painting. I also paint in short breaks during the job.


I try not to judge resulting images by how good they look in terms of visual composition. I choose works whose working process becomes no longer detectable. I want an image to be a trace of my deed.


I feel I have come to see painting differently. Probably because I have worked with mechanical mentality, trying to deviate from human judgement, I became more sensitive to human scent in other painters’ works. Painting digitally helps me recognize it more clearly.


It’s like hovering around humans, observing them. It feels funny that my sensitivity is becoming mixed with insect-like one, similar to the film “The Fly.” I think a new beauty is born out of violent blend of essentially incompatible things. Going on this way, I expect to come across a new beauty, something different from what we know now.


Ryuichiro Otake

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