MADSAKI (B. 1974)
MADSAKI (B. 1974)

Tooth Brush

MADSAKI (B. 1974)
Tooth Brush
signed and dated ‘madsaki 2017’ (on reverse)
acrylic and aerosol on canvas
245 x 180 cm. (96 1/2 x 71 in.)
Painted in 2017
Kaikai Kiki Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
Private collection, Asia
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Tokyo, Japan, Kaikai Kiki Gallery, HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW, May-June 2017.

Brought to you by

Shanshan Wei
Shanshan Wei

Lot Essay

Following his highly successful Wannabie’s Series which reclaimed old and modern master’s paintings in a humorous and insolent twist, MADSAKI experiments with a more intimate approach where he captures private glances into his wife’s daily life. “While drawing her in my studio, there were many times that I could not stop crying. Transcience. I want to believe that these feelings of love and strong connection will last for eternity.”

Much like French Post-Impressionist painter Pierre Bonnard who repeatedly painted his spouse and exclusive model, Marthe, MADSAKI ventures into the frequently revisited theme of the female nude in the bathroom. François Boucher, Edgar Degas, Pierre-August Renoir just to name a few, depicted glimpses into confidential scenes of bathing women as a popular 18th and 19th century subject.

The artist chooses a sophisticated composition with the spectator feeling as if they had suddenly stepped into the bathroom, leaving them to wonder, “Am I welcome or not?” The references to space are disconcerting. The plain yellow background flattens any sense of perspective while the purple curtain on the right side and the wooden post on the left close off any openings. The mirror on the wall reflects the back of the head of the model, offering a different viewpoint, but giving no indication as to how large the room is. The eye is trapped in a cramped face-to-face and bounces off against the mirror as it tries to escape. Moreover, the monumental size of the subject towers over the viewer, leaving them feeling dwarfed. The scene becomes an uneasy display of voyeurism from which the spectator cannot escape.

The floral patterned kimono cascading over her shoulders is a distinct reference to the artist’s Japanese background. MADSAKI was born in 1974 in Osaka and emigrated to New Jersey at a young age. He graduated from Parsons School of Design in 1996 and worked as a member of the international artist group Barnstormers. Sharing his life between Tokyo and New York, he has had many solo shows, where he has showcased numerous styles ranging from extremely detailed drawings to large scale sculptures and installations. In recent years, his work has referenced historical masterpieces and questioned their value in a provocative language, using aerosol as a medium. In the present work, on view in his 2017 solo exhibition “Here today, gone tomorrow”, MADSAKI offers an insight into his own private life, hinting to his Japanese heritage and bicultural identity. His friend and fellow artist Takashi Murakami wrote about him, “As someone who grew up overseas and later returned to live in Japan, he had experienced an identity crisis peculiar to returnees. I could discern the melancholy of a fellow countryman in the way he seemed to repeatedly and desperately return to aspects of Japan in his work in order to address that crisis”.

The melancholy he points out can be felt in this work, as the black hollow eyes are lost in emptiness. The black spray-painted dripping stains have covered the windows to the soul, concealing the inner battles and burdens. The colourful clothing attempts to distract the viewer, but it cannot erase the overwhelming feeling of vacuity. The subject has been captured in a private moment, doing a mundane repetitive task, a metaphor of the transient nature of everyday life. In other paintings of the same series, the artist’s wife is depicted putting on make-up seated in front of a mirror or eating crisps in a Japanese interior. The series also features a painting titled No More Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a sarcastic reference to the iconic 1961 Hollywood movie starring Audrey Hepburn, in which she is famously seen brushing her teeth.

Still retaining his usual subversive language, MADSAKI abandons popular imagery and turns inwards with this surprising work. By inviting us into the intimacy of his wife’s daily routine, he deliberately lets us into his own universe, with restraint and control. The task is complex, but it shows a new vulnerability of which the artist offers us a precious glimpse.

More from HI-LITE Evening Sale

View All
View All