Tiger Tateishi's talents were evident at young age and, today, remains one of the older Japanese artists who hold a pervasive and conscious influence over the younger generation. His works encapsulate and define, well, the traits of contemporary Japanese art. At the age of 22, he submitted a large collage to the 15th Yomiuri Independent Exhibition and received widespread acclaim. His works since the mid 1960s depict imaginary and grand scenery with colorful, smooth surfaces and pure tonal variations-- an attempt to not only hide the artificiality, but also imitate the mechanical outfit of Manga, Cartoon and Poster art. His penchant for modern design craftsmanship, commercial art and Manga aesthetics prevails throughout his oeuvres and articulate a uniquely Japanese perspective on Contemporary visual culture.
While some other contemporary Japanese artists base their themes of the physical world on everyday experience, Tateishi often depicts a world of dreamy and futurist scenery, interwoven with defining motifs from ancient Japanese culture. In Fuji and Wars (Lot 501), artifacts from different time frames and cultural contexts are juxtaposed in an anachronistic composition. On the one hand, Mt. Fuji, exploding Vulcan guns, gigantic breaking waves, traditional Japanese musical drama masks (Noh Drama) and Samurais, which are located in the background and foreground, tinges the scenery with a religious and mysterious aura; and the other hand, circuit boards that are depicted as eroding and invading from both edges. Robot-like animals and wondrous creatures are marching in the middle, as an army and wars are unfolding in numerous interlocking scopes. Noh masks traditionally portrayed female or nonhuman; and divine or demonic characters. The two Noh masks, located in the upper quadrant stimulate one's imagination of the persistent wars between earth and heaven, deities and monsters, ever since the primordial history of human beings. Mechanical animals marching into Japanese fortresses and benches recall human's nightmarish fear of robotic rebellion and invasion from the advent of modernity. Tateishi's fascination with science fiction, space and time is expressed in an incredibly complex manner as the narration in this remarkable triptych plays out on the canvas, almost like moving screen or animation, showing elaborate details throughout the painting. Also, the apocalyptic and oracular tone provides the spectators with a glimpse of the anxiety and inquietude penetrating current Japanese society. This is consistent with the mentality of the contemporary Japanese generation, whose obsession oscillates between traditional Japanese heritage and the tides of modernity (with its overwhelming gadgets). This elaborate and fantastic expression can find its parallel in Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights. At the same time, Tateishi adds his own twist by stressing the eternal dichotomies between human and machine, traditional and modern, past and future and, thus, reflecting the gist and spirit of his time.
The composition of Fuji and Wars continues to display Tateishi's fondness for dramatic compositions with the feel of theatre stage layouts and his reincarnation of traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e art (Floating World Style). He mimics Ukiyo-e board panoramas and juxtaposes multiple perspectives within a single space, paying little regard to perspective or portions. A scattered structural composition corresponds to a multi-dimensional combination of the past, present and future, and therefore, providing us with a visual experience that seems tinged with the flavor of mental imagery and wild flights of fancy. The fragmented and ambiguous nature of time and compositions suggesting the fourth dimension and simultaneous historical and futuristic outlooks are all part of his wellspring of ideas, which he hones into a critically pointed wand in order to depict grand and fanciful spectacles. The composition is very characteristic of Tateishi's artworks and can be regarded as heralding the super-flat aesthetics that prevail in Contemporary Japanese art.