Takashi Taruya

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コンテンポラリーアーティスト

樽屋タカシ

この世に生息する摩訶不思議な生き物を(作品の主題に)とらえて

ケルト神話に出てくる妖精(Fairy)や中国の伝説に描かれる奇怪な生き物のように、日本の「おとぎ話」にも妖怪(Yokai)という名の摩訶不思議な生き物がたくさん登場する。「ひとつ目の化け物」(一つ目小僧)、赤ん坊の泣き声で人をだます「小人のおじいさん」(こ泣きじじい)などは、おなじみのキャラクターだ。ときには妖怪は生き物ではなく、不思議な現象として現れることもある。妖怪は、昔話や漫画、アニメ、そして映画などで「ちょっと怖い話」として度々描かれている。

樽屋タカシは、奇怪な霊魂が私たちの日常生活のどこかに潜んでいる場面を描いているが、彼はモチーフとして妖怪のひとつ「つくも神」に焦点を当てている。つくも神は、長らく使われた「道具」や「器」に霊魂が宿った妖怪で、ときには人に悪さをしたり、からかったりもする。「つくも」とは数字の99のことで、100年に近い「長い長い年月」とか「たくさんの種類」という意味を持つ。日本人には、長い間使った日常道具……たとえば箪笥やふすま、そして鍋釜から箸にいたるまで、それらに愛着をもち、感謝し、道具を敬う習慣がある。そして、一本足と一つ目の傘や、手足がはえた盥(washbowl)など、奇怪な姿の「つくも神」は不気味でありながら、コミックのようになにやら滑稽だ。

大量消費時代の真っただ中で樽屋タカシが触発されたのは、日本古来の「つくも神」の存在だった。物を粗末に扱い、果ては使い捨てにされた物が環境を破壊し、ゆがんでいく社会を見つめ、アーティストとして、また1人の人間として、自身の作品に「つくも神」の精神を投影しようと一大発心。そして、日本の絵師達が700年前から繰り返し模写してきた「つくも神絵巻」や妖怪画を、最先端の画材と技法を用い、伝統的な金箔張りを加え、独自の視点で現代に蘇らせた。樽屋は「大量消費をするな、という上から目線の警告ではなく、賢く、無駄なく消費し、限られた資源を有効に循環しましょう、というメッセージを『つくも神』に込めています。ですから、畏れ多い神様の姿でなく、ユーモラスで可愛く描いているのです」と語っている。

樽屋の作品では、我々が日常見慣れているコンビニやカフェ、ガソリンスタンドなどの中に「妖怪・つくも神」が生き生きと息づいている。見る者は、時の境界を飛び越えて架空の世界に引き込まれてしまう。作品に込められているユーモアを内包するアクティブな精神が、現代社会を生きる私たちに、未来への希望をもたらしてくれる。

樽屋タカシ・プロフィール

1974年、日本の鹿児島県に生まれる。高校在学中からレタリングを習得し、看板を描くアルバイトではすでにプロの腕前を発揮していた。大学では主に油彩を学び、在学中より、ミケランジェロやボッティチェルリの作品を模写し、それを素材とした巨大壁画や天井画の制作に取り組む(オーストラリアとニュージーランドにて)。海外で壁画の制作に取り組むうち、伝統的な日本画手法で描かれた妖怪、特に「つくも神」に惹かれて、古典絵巻の模写を始める。さらに金箔を画面に貼り込む技術を独学で習得し、自身の作品に取り入れる。2009年、初の個展を開催し、以来、独自の「つくも神」の世界を描いて好評を得ている。

日本の妖怪

妖怪は日本の民間伝承にみられる超自然的な生き物で、鬼や狐の化け物など、様々な性格のものがいる。かっぱや天狗のように動物と人間の両方の要素をもつものもいる。江戸時代(1603~1867)の浮世絵師、鳥山石燕による妖怪画集『画図百鬼夜行』にも多くの妖怪たちが描かれている。一方現代に目を向けると、1960年代に漫画家の水木しげるの漫画『ゲゲゲの鬼太郎』が大ヒットし、後にアニメやキャラクターなども作られた。最近では「妖怪ウォッチ」のような漫画作品のヒットから、妖怪をモチーフにしたグッズが人気を博している。妖怪は今、日本のポップ・カルチャーの中にしっかりと根付いている。また最近、アメリカでも妖怪がブームになってきて「YOKAI」という言葉が、「OTAKU」や「KAWAII」と並んで定着している。

Capturing supernatural beings who inhabit our world

In the same way that Celtic myths contain their fairies and Chinese legends their grotesque creatures, Japanese fairy tales are inhabited by supernatural beings known as yōkai. Many have become popular characters, such as one-eyed demons (hitotsume kozo) or konaki-jijii who deceive people by imitating the sound of crying babies. Some yōkai appear as strange phenomenon, with a popularity found in slightly scary fairy tales, manga, animated films, and full-length features.

Portraying uncanny supernatural spirits and their place in our lives, Takashi Taruya focuses on a species of yōkai, tsukumo-gami, who inhabit human objects with evil or mischievous intent, often with comic results.

They spring from an old belief that supposedly inanimate objects like tools or vessels used for a long time eventually develop a spirit of their own and become yōkai who do wicked or funny things to people. ‘Tsukumo’ is written using the characters for ‘99’ and is used in this context to indicate ‘many types’ or almost 100 years, meaning ‘a long, long time’. The Japanese people have a custom of expressing gratitude and venerating objects, such as chests of drawers, sliding doors, saucepans and even chopsticks, that have been part of their daily lives for many years. This is what makes for comic juxtaposition in such delightful, uncanny tsukumo-gami creatures as the one-legged, one-eyed umbrella or washbowl with arms and legs.

Living within today’s mass-consumption society, Taruya found himself inspired by the traditional Japanese belief in the existence of tsukumo-gami.  Contemplating the warped values of a society, in which objects are not appreciated but treated as disposable, thereby adding to the destruction of the environment, he underwent an almost religious awakening as both an artist and an individual, leading him to portray the spirit of these tsukumo-gami in his work. The result was that he turned the tsukumo-gami and yōkai, which Japanese artists have repeatedly produced over the last 700 years, as his motifs, combining the latest materials and techniques with traditional gold leaf to bring them back to life in his own unique way.  TARUYA speaks of them as follows: ‘I do not take a condescending position, warning people not to overconsume, rather, the message embodied in my tsukumo-gami is that we should consume in a clever, unwasteful fashion and recycle our limited resources. That is why I do not depict them as awe-inspiring gods, but rather as humorous and cute.’

In TARUYA’s work the ‘yōkai and tsukumo-gami’ can be seen living active lives in the convenience stores, cafes and gas stations that we use in our daily lives.  The viewers find themselves crossing the borders of time to be drawn into an imaginary world.  The active spirit and humor that imbues his work gives us, living in contemporary society, hope for the future.

Takashi TARUYA – Profile

Born in Japan’s Kagoshima Prefecture in 1974.  He studied lettering while still in high school, becoming so proficient that he was able to work part-time writing signboards.  Later, he produced reproductions of works by Michelangelo and Botticelli while studying oil painting at the Kyoto University of Art & Design and this experience provided him with the necessary skills to create huge murals and ceiling paintings (in Australia and New Zealand).  While working overseas on these murals, he became interested in paintings of yōkai, particularly tsukumo-gami, painted using traditional Japanese techniques and began to work on a reproduction of a classic picture scroll.  He then went on to teach himself the technique of applying gold leaf to pictures, employing this in his own work.  He held his first solo exhibition in 2009 and ever since he has built a reputation for producing unique works depicting the world of the tsukumo-gami.

Japanese Yōkai

Japanese yōkai are supernatural beings that appear in old folk tales; they come in numerous different types, from demons to foxes, and each possesses a different character.  Some, like the water sprite, Kappa, or the long-nosed goblin, Tengu, incorporate aspects of both humans and animals.  One famous work, ‘Ezu Hyakki Yagyō’ (The Illustrated Night Parade of a Hundred Demons) by the woodblock print artist, Sekien TORIYAMA (1712-1788), is a series of pictures portraying various yōkai.  During the 1960s, a manga, ‘GeGeGe no Kitarō’, by Shigeru MIZUKI featured various Japanese yōkai and was a huge hit, later becoming a popular anime and giving rise to numerous characters.  Recently, ‘Yo-Kai Watch’ has become a hit manga and numerous items featuring monster motifs have become very popular.  Today, yōkai have become an accepted facet of Japan’s pop culture, leading to a yōkai boom in the U.S. and the word ‘yōkai’ becoming part of the English language, together with ‘otaku’ and ‘kawaii’.

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17 comments on “Takashi Taruya

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