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Art Watch : Riusuke Fukahori

Riusuke Fukahori is our Art Watch Artist for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across any discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by. Or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch.

Fukahori’s artwork, especially the ‘Goldfish Salvation’ series has always reminded me of the Japanese tradition of Shokuhin Sampuru (fake-food samples). Since the 1930s artists and candle makers would work together for restaurant owners to create these visual replicas of food, for the the ease of the customer. Fukahori’s ‘live’ goldfish made of layers of resin and acrylic are reminiscent of this tradition of making the unreal look real! Bit it would not be fair to be reductive about the exquisite work from this artist.

Fukahori originally had wanted to pursue a career as a formative designer. And to this end he graduated at the Aichi Art University Department of Design in 1995. Soon after, Riusuke started working. To his dismay there was a gap in what he thought work would be and what it was. The designer business wasn’t anything that the artist imagined or hoped it to be.

Why Riusuke Fukahori?

He can pinpoint the turning point of his life, when in 2000, his career hit a low. He was unable to complete his work and meet deadlines, an essential in his line of work. This was eating away at his mindset and created challenges for himself. It was then that Fukahori happened to glance towards his pet goldfish as it swam in dirty water. He had been so immersed with work and himself, that Riusuke had forgotten to clean the tank and feed the fish for quite some time. However, the little fish was still alive and well.

It was an epiphany for the artist and he felt that the example of resilience was before him and he was inspired more than all the years he had spent at college. The beauty of the life of the goldfish surrounded by murky water was enough to make him realize he was wasting his life away on something he doesn’t even love anymore.

The artist inside him was born. Inspired by what the experience had birthed within him, he had an uncontrollable desire to depict goldfishes in all their beauty. Riusuke Fukahori calls this crucial moment of his life ‘The Goldfish Salvation’. Riusuke painstakingly invented his exceptional way of painting during the year of 2002. This was when he created his first goldfishes by pouring resin. As a precursor, it had taken him all of eight years to master this way of painting and his first publication finally came in 2010.

Artistic Process

“I didn’t invent resin and not the first to use resin. I am not a resin artist. I am a goldfish artist. I think it’s obvious which pieces are Riusuke Fukahori pieces because the imitators use the wrong containers. They will never understand goldfish the way I do. They are only copying the craft, not the soul.”

It can be understood that Fukahori perfected his creative method gradually over time, further enhancing his technique. Fukahori didn’t simply paint goldfishes – by altering between pouring resin into a vessel and painting with acrylic paint. It gave the resulting work a three-dimensional optical effect. The vessels are items on which he displays his goldfishes, which for him means the vessels can be almost anything he can get his hands on!

Riusuke’s depictions can be found inside many common household items of Japan, such as sushi okes and cypress sake cups. Of course, sometimes his work can get a bit too large to be fitted inside a cup, so that demands a bigger working ground, like giant paper surfaces and wooden planks, or even glass. It is an amalgamation of his philosophy that flows out into different forms and mediums.

Fukahori does a repetition of liquid resin pouring and acrylic painting layer by layer. The resin rushes into the volumes and dries, he then repeats his method until it finally gets the desirable three-dimensional effect. To say these fishes are realistically depicted would be an understatement, the results are on display.

For the respect that he has for the beings, his craft has reached an optical point where they seem not only real but actually present in front of you. Fukahori in his studio has with tanks full of goldfishes! He observes them endless and learns the smallest details because he never uses photographs of models for his work. Everything he paints comes directly from his memory and imagination.

For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – explore the ART WATCH archive.

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