Takeshi Yamada

TAKESHI YAMADA WAS BORN AND RAISED in a respectable house of the Samurai warrior in Osaka, Japan. He studied art at Yamamoto Art Academy in 1970-73, Atorie Ribera School of Art in 1977, Nakanoshima College of Art in 1978-80 and Osaka University of Art in 1980-83 in Japan. He was the only qualified student who was selected from the dozen of applied students to become part of the International Exchange Program. He moved to the United States in 1983 and continued studying art at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, CA and Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore in 1983-85. He completed his Bachelor of Fine Art degree in 1985, and shortly thereafter, was accepted at the University of Michigan School of Art in Ann Arbor and enrolled with a full-tuition scholarship and Teaching Assistantship position as one of the best students. He obtained his Master of Fine Art Degree in 1987.

“I select my pictorial images based on cross-cultural mythologies that permeates the universal consciousness of people.”

After moving to the United States, Yamada started traveling major cities in the United States (and later Europe) for his research for producing artworks. Upon the completion of his travels and studies, he had managed to reach the highest degree of excellence in the four major areas of art: painting, graphic work, sculpture and print.

By 1990, Yamada successfully fused Eastern and Western visual culture and variety of cross cultural mythology in urban allegories, and produced a series of 48 New Orleans Mardi Gras subject paintings entitled “Divine Comedy: New Orleans Mardi Gras.” The paintings were exhibited at the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans, LA for his solo exhibition and the Mayor of the city granted him the “Key to the City” and “Honorary Citizenship” at the opening reception in 1990 when he was only 29 years old. The Meguroku Museum of Art in Tokyo, Japan exhibited some of them immediately after the exhibition, and the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel, MS, granted him another museum solo exhibition in 1993.

Yamada began producing artworks inspired by horseshoe crabs after his first visit to Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York in 2001. The horseshoe crabs have inspired a numbers of series of artworks. By combining the mythology of “Princess Otohime of Dragon’s Palace” in China, “Tale of Urashimatarou” in Japan, stories of western mermaids, and the Buddhist concept of reincarnation, Yamada painted the portrait of Princess Otohime on the prosoma of a horseshoe crab shell as a ceremonial spiritual object at “Palace of Ocean.”

He has also produced a series of “Warriors Ceremonial Masks” on horseshoe crabs as ceremonial objects similar to the Japanese “Haniwa” at Palace of Ocean. “Haniwa” is a clay-image figure to be buried with emperors and kings to protect them in the after life. Their facial expressions and helmet details were painted after careful examination of the intricate patterns appearing on the horseshoe crab shells.

Yamada also began producing new series of pen and ink drawings inspired by the horseshoe crab after visiting Delaware to attend the annual horseshoe crab survey organized by Ecological Research and Development Institute, a not-for-profit horseshoe crab conservation organization. The drawings are made using his original homemade dipping pen, made of the tail of a dead horseshoe crab.

Yamada won second prize at a prestigious annual citywide fine art Juried show (professional level) in Osaka when he was only 12 years old. Since then, he received numerous awards and honors i.e., “International Man of the Year” and “Outstanding Artists and Designers of the 20th Century,” “Outstanding People of the 20th Century” and “21st Century Award for Achievement” by the International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England. He also received a Plaque of Recognition from the Gary Community School Corporation, Gary, Indiana and another “Key to the City” from its Mayor, as an accomplished educator. He was featured in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in The World by the Marquis Who’s Who.

He has had over 300 art exhibitions, including 34 solo art exhibitions at galleries and museums internationally in Spain, the Netherlands, Japan and the United States. His artworks have also been chosen for inclusion in numerous museums, corporations and universities/colleges i.e., Louisiana State Museum, New Orleans Museum of Art, University of Michigan Museum of Art, Chicago Athenaeum Museum, Eastern Oregon University, Montana State University and Ohio State University.

Yamada has been featured in numerous books, magazine and newspapers, including: The Fine Art Index, New American Paintings, Chicago Art Scene, Chicago Tribune Magazine, Chicago Japanese American News, Strong Coffee, Reader, Milwaukee Journal, Clarion, Kaleidoscope, Laurel Leader-Call, The Advertiser News, Times-Picayune, Michigan Alumnus, Michigan Today, Mardi Gras Guide, The Ann Arbor News, Park Slope Courier, 24/7, Brooklyn Free Press and The World Tribune.

He has also appeared in numerous television programs in major cities in the US, including “Chicago’s Very Own,” “Takeshi Yamada’s Divine Comedy in New Orleans,” Chicago Public Television’s Channel ID, Brooklyn Cable Access Television, and A&E History Channel. His work has also appeared in numerous publications, such as Medical Journal of the Artist, Graphic Works 1996-1999, Phantom City, Divine Comedy, Miniatures, Louisville, Visual Anthropology 2000, Heaven and Hell, Citizen Kings, and Dukes and Saints.

As an educator, Yamada has taught classes, conducted workshops and has made public speeches at numerous educational institutions such as universities, colleges, museums, art centers, summer camps, high schools and elementary schools in both the United States and Japan since 1978. He currently serves on the board of the prestigious Brooklyn Working Artists Coalition, and on the advisory board of the Ecological Research and Development Institute. His expertise on the history, mythology and ecological significance of horseshoe crabs, as well as his more than 130 pieces of original artwork, are extremely valuable and beneficial to Brooklyn and the Salt Marsh Nature Center. He can be reached at yamada108@aol.com.

artistic statement
I developed my fascination to the city’s intricate culture and development as I grew up in Osaka, the third largest city in Japan. I moved to the United States when I was 23 years old, and lived in big cities such as Oakland, California; Baltimore, Maryland; Ann Arbor, Michigan; New Orleans, Louisiana; Chicago, Illinois and Brooklyn, NY where I live now. The similarities and differences between cities always fascinated me. Therefore, it was natural for me to produce art works based on what I saw, photographed, researched, interviewed and felt about the unique characters of cities. They are the city’s physical, social, material, architectural and cultural development or life-style of people including their origin, evolution, costumes, beliefs, folkways etc. in comparison to other cities. In this sense, I regard myself as a “Visual Anthropologist” and my artworks as “Visual Encyclopedia.

I call my style “Post Photo Realism” because my paintings are strongly inspired by images from uniquely animated resource photographs that I take when I conduct “Field Works”. To capture those unique resource images that are virtually imperceptible to the naked eyes, I utilize slow shutter speed, fish eye lens, multiple exposures, color filters and etc. when I manipulate my cameras. When I face a canvas, I utilize those unique visual effects with intricate details to the pictorial space by using oil & acrylic paints with variety of brushes in my studio. I spend an average of two to four weeks to complete each painting. I also produce a large number of works on papers utilizing variety of techniques such as etching, aquatint, serigraph, monotype and etc. In the process, I use variety of optical devices and computer digital scanning and printing process to trace the uniquely hand-manipulated/deformed images directly onto the surface to work on just like when I work on my canvases.

I select my pictorial images based on cross-cultural mythologies that permeates the universal consciousness of people. I animate visual effects to symbolically present the metaphor of life in Eastern and Western religions such as “spiritual power”, “heaven and hell”, “three thousand realms in a single moment of life”, “three existence of life”, “oneness of person and his environment” and “ultimate reality of the universe”. I also produce series of artworks such as paintings, prints, drawings, books and audiocassette tapes as a “Project”. I believe that people can dramatically experience what I have gone through the cities when they see my variety of creative products together. . . . For me, producing fine art exhibition is a part of educational and inspirational process for my audiences who seek personal growth and enrich their life.

It is my hope that my artworks are the vehicles to please the eyes, uplift the spirit, stir the imagination and express conviction. It is my desire to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the importance of the global nature of the world, its people and the bonds that mutually bind them. It is my sincere wish that my creativity and its products contribute to the advancement of the glorious culture based on the sanctity of life and true humanism.

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