A Man Can't Fly Anymore
oil on canvas
102.8 x 144.8 cm. (40 1/2 x 57 in.)
Painted in 1996
Kyuryudo Art Publising Co., Tetsuya Ishida Posthumous Works, Tokyo, Japan, 2006, p. 6 (illustrated)
Shizuoka, Japan, Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, Canvas in Sadness, July 24 - August 19, 2007

Lot Essay

The rapid economic and technological prosperity in Japan is inevitably associated with the high levels of psychological distress of disorientated youths in Japan. Afraid by the endless possibilities and conformity forced by the ever-advancing society however much rooted in centuries of tradition, the images of Tetsuya Ishida address the claustrophobic individual entangled in the web of society.

Like the blandly clad salarymen in Japan, this conservative individual in A Man Can't Fly Anymore (Lot 413) swims regularly, hoping to move forward in his life and monotonous life. However, he is oversized, his long limbs awkwardly hanging over the rusty edges of this playground ship. Tetsuya paints this normally fun and adrenaline filled ride in its most ruined and aged state; it no longer swings with gleeful children but rather hangs still, addressing the mental blockage of the man. The black expression of the figure's face reads indifference and forced naivety to the stillness and aged job he has, static and degraded as the ship he lies on. Within the large infrastructure of Japan, this man struggles to find his place and struggles to accept that he is merely a small and easily replaceable piece of hardware. Similarly, the man or Tetsuya himself has morphed into a bathroom fixture in Decided By Myself0(Lot 414). Introverted both physically and mentally, his body is as white as porcelain; the people using this sink would never realize that he existed. Surrounded by various belongings, his existence is isolated to this room, a result of a voluntary act as suggested in the title of the piece. He is bound to this state from his fear of leaving his known territory, despite his oversized body in the compact space.

The excessive orderliness of finely layered brushstrokes exhibits Ishida's intense mental absorption in painting. Almost in a ritualistic manner, the artist's persistent impulses are presented through his remarkable handling of the oil paint in depicting features of tempera paints. The thin semi-opaque paint strokes with numerous layered colors generate a deep color saturation of the painting as a whole. This meticulous stacking of obsessive paint strokes enhances the form of the face to appear three-dimensional, triggering an illusion of depth for the viewer. Traumatized by the loss of purpose and self, Ishida unveils existential anxiety through the blend of metamorphosis, simplified schematic style and heavy colors to also criticize the solitude in contemporary Japanese life caused by economic growth and technological production.

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