Our childhood and pre-teen memories and experiences are popular themes in contemporary Japanese art and are used by artists in a variety of mediums. Kobayashi's paintings of stuffed animals, integrate elements of Japanese art such as Ukiyo-e (woodcut-printing), photography and animation, which are characterized by layered pictorial space, dynamics of action by, sharp lines, the multiplicity of commercial printing and allegories. Inspired by these mediums, he developed his own unique style to depict his representational figures. Taking a digital photograph of a figure, he manipulates the image in order to make a draft of a virtual story. Then, with the aid of a PC, he reduces and adjusts the colors into chromatic shapes, similar to a geographical map. Using the draft, he paints the images by pouring glossy fluid acrylic paints onto a prepared canvas. The photographic reality and allegory is re-codified as a painting that reflects his own production. By pouring the color onto the canvas, the artist creates a painting of gently seated figures on single-colored plane.
They protrude this surface, retaining their volume not so much through perspective painting, but through thick layers of carefully applied acrylic paint, which gives them an almost three-dimensional character and builds a contrast to the surface, which can be seen as the empty space behind the embossed cast. At the same time, elements of a flat style, intrinsic to Japanese cartoon, remain.
While much of his earlier works were composed of free floating stuffed animals over a cool blue and white light box like background, the two featured works of this sale Happy Birthday (lot 1056) and Bouquet No. 1-3 (lot 1057) possess a different ambiance through diversified colour scheme. These works are increasingly affable as Kobayashi chooses a warmer palette of peaches, oranges and crimsons. The viewer cannot help but feel at ease while viewing the visually soft visions of childhood memories. With the aid of digital technology, Kobayashi has enabled viewers to preserve and re-visit moments of happiness. Like the fully bloomed Gerber daisies of Bouquet No. 1-3, the elderly couple of Happy Birthday are likewise fully bloomed, celebrating yet another year of their long partnership.
Kobayashi's works playfully touches upon the issue of preservation and ageing. Through the technique to produce these works alongside the subject of flowers, elderly people and stuffed dolls, Kobayashi's works are a commentary on the ability of today's technology and science to suspend ageing and conserve memories. In simply viewing these deceptively digital hand painted works, the viewer is transported into a place where he or she is left to contemplate a singular, nostalgic moment of the past, present or future.