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KEIICHI TANAAMI (B.1936)
KEIICHI TANAAMI (B.1936)

Playing in Fantasy

Details
KEIICHI TANAAMI (B.1936)
Playing in Fantasy
signed and dated 'Keiichi Tanaami, 2009' (lower middle)
acrylic on canvas
116 x 80 cm. (45 3/4 x 31 1/2 in.)
Painted in 2009

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Lot Essay

Keiichi Tanaami's creative inspiration comes primarily from his childhood experiences and historical influences, the strongest being that of World War II. Tanaami was born in 1936 in Tokyo. The eldest son of a textile wholesaler, he grew up surrounded by textiles embroidered in all sorts of vivid colours. The bombing of Tokyo began in 1942 and continued until 1945 when he was 9. From the bomb shelter, he witnessed roaring American planes dropping flares, the Japanese army using searchlights to located bomber planes in the sky, and people fleeing in a sea of fire. These images frequently appeared in his works as beams of light, glowing grotesque creatures and skeletal monsters. The strongest image in particular, is the flames of the bombs reflected off his grandfather's goldfishes swimming in their tanks. Tanaami, as an innocent child, found these images beautiful and intriguing. Tanaami described his experience in World War II, "I am still wondering if it occurred in the real world or not. In my memory, it has been obscure and the real world and my dream have been mixed". Goldfish later became a recurring symbol in his works as wartime memory.

In 1958, Tanaami graduated from Musashino Art University with a degree in design, and he subsequently worked in graphic design and illustration. He interacted with artists Ushio Shinohara, Genpei Akasagawa and Shusaku Arakawa, who started Neo Dadaism in the 1960s, one of the most radical avant-garde collectives in post-war Japan. In 1967, he travelled to New York for the first time and was very inspired by Andy Warhol. He then began utilising the compilation techniques and concepts of editing of design to recreate his memories. He started working with different mediums including animation, film, painting and sculpture. In recent years, he has focused on large-scale paintings, exploring his vision of an ultimate utopia, one that transcends suffering and fear beyond the constraints of time and space.

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