“While I advance, I step back slightly at times. Every time I do so, I catch a glimpse of something; a comforting anxiety invoked upon encountering the invariable within my self: a profound discrepancy between an unchanging thing which gradually and noisily changes its existing form. It is thus that I witness the friction between the continual transformation of the yet unchangeable. I inhabit a creative labyrinth wherein this conflict and ambivalence constantly appear and disappear. I paint because for me the act of creation is profoundly derived from questioning this fundamental contradiction.” Written 30 years ago by Daisuke Hara, his attitude towards his work remains the same.
Daisuke Hara’s 2019 exhibition at Tsubaki Modern Gallery in Nihombashi, Tokyo will be his 38th there. I paid a visit to the artist in his atelier as he prepared for his upcoming show. I saw piles of canvases everywhere. Did they represent the ground won following ferocious battle? Did they represent battle as much as creation?
Hara belongs to the so-called baby boomer generation; a post-war generation which experienced several and inevitable paradigm shifts. His childhood was spent in post-war Kobe, a creatively surging environment where authentic Japanese culture and the relentless inrush of American culture confronted one another. Sometimes they blended together but there were times when new values swiftly replaced the old. It was a scene that Hara thoroughly embraced; an era-defining, cultural and creative surge.
Aspiring to become an artist, Hara moved to Tokyo where he was influenced by European and North American artists from various creative fields such as; Elvis Presley; The Beatles; Bob Dylan;Picasso; Pop Art; Abstract Expressionism; Jackson Pollock; Tàpies. However, he was also attracted both to the home grown radical GUTAI group and to Tawaraya Sotatsu, one of the giants of classical Japanese art, known for his paintings and his decoration of Oriental calligraphy.
At Musashino Art University, Hara devoted himself to drawing and realism. Soon after graduation he shifted from the figurative world to that of the abstract, where he remains; embarking on an unending journey into an utterly unknown world; seeking his own style and maintaining a continuous dialogue with his work.
Hara shares one of the major characteristics of his generation, the urge to return to oneself after numerous self-denials, and struggle to rediscover one’s unique identity.
He states “Even the evolution of my work sends out my message. My work is the proof of my existence; the signal that I live, breathe, and exist at this very moment and time. I want to connect to a universal feeling that is like a groundwater artery coursing through the depths of the Earth and resonating with people throughout human existence.”
From early on, Hara has been attracted to the fetish elements of painting such as the strokes made by the paint and the texture. While he believes that the visual and sensory desire underpins the execution of his works, he is equally certain that to be a painter demands careful exploration and deliberation of these preferences.
However, fundamental to his creative process, he says “I often introduce conflicting and contradictory elements into my abstract composition in order to get to the essence, the core, of existence: serenity and aggression; intensity and expansiveness; and sometimes I intentionally place incoherent sections within the composition.”
Commenting on the upcoming exhibition, Hara says “My main focus, the centre of my creative expression, is on the line. To me, the straight line symbolises modernity without deviation. I position the line against primitive force and the classical elements that foam the foundation of my work. My wish is to create reality in my work.”
Never settling on one painting style, Hara always wishes to lay bare his core being right in front of your eye. He paints with outpouring inspiration coming from deep within him, capturing the moment.
Painting belongs to a visual language, one that is equally powerful and important as spoken and written language. As Hara says “Painting itself is a strong message. I believe passionately and overwhelmingly in the possibility of painting.”
Please come to see Daisuke Hara’s latest work.
Extracts from a review by Seiichi Watanabe.
Extracts from the interview with Daisuke Hara and from his website.
2018.5 原 大介
Born in Kobe, Japan, in 1947, right after WWII, when the country was under the US occupation. Raised in such an environment that both traditional Japanese and newly introduced Western life styles were coexisted. Naturally, inﬂuenced by not only such authentic Japanese artists as Tawaraya Sotatsu, and other Rinpa school painters and calligraphers, but also the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, and other American pop artists, his way of artistic expression became somewhat mysterious and inexplicable, giving an attempt of intermingling and harmonizing such conﬂicting views as calmness and intensity, concentration and diffusion, and harmony and disorder. On his drawings, various uncanny yet simple beauties exist together in one piece of art. The major theme in his art has been to display the contrast and symbiosis among the variant beings, which signiﬁes the diversity of nature for him.
Inspired by abstract expressionism, Hara began to consider his paintings as a spiritual communication tool between human mind and the other dimension of the world. Each piece of his artwork is to be unique and indispensable, and makes viewers feel its vibration to alter the atmosphere of the displayed space. It symbolizes the unity of human, and the linkage between people and the universe, that has been apart but would be reconnected by his art as if different people living in distance could share, could be linked by, the same source of underground water vein.
Hara is a strong believer in the great potentiality and inﬁnite possibilities of art. He regards his artworks as proof of existence of life. Painting helps him discover his own self because it reﬂects unconscious heart within, and it conveys to viewers strong emotional messages. Once completed, art pieces become independent from the artists, and receive another life of who they really are.