Shintaro Miyake's work primarily revolves around reinventing classical and mythological themes of history and by-gone ancient civilizations. Populated by imaginary creatures with elliptical heads, thin limbs and cartoon smiles rendered in a child-like impression, Miyake's cartoonish scenes seem to capture both the lost innocence of youth as well as the past memories in us of a child.
Exhibited at the artist's 2008 solo exhibition "Shintaro Miyake: Egypt - Path to Civilization", Path to Egypt (Lot 1504) is one of the most well-formed and elaborately illustrated large-scale drawings that was featured in the show. The frieze-like expanse of the work is at once a light-hearted view and a poignant exploration of the notion of afterlife, time and reality. Regarding these themes, Miyake has stated, "Things always move towards to the end at the same time as they startK.If it's a regular travel, time will continue after you arrive at the final destination. But if it's a time travel, you will take off from the time itself. And from you consciousness. This is my biggest anxiety as well as the only resolution. But however I think, it is a fact that I have been on the time travel. With joy and sorrows on the train called time." Inhabited by a myriad of delicately rendered smiling gods, strange mummies, and grimacing creatures of the underworld, the traditional symbolic imagery of Ancient Egypt has been reworked into scene of mystery and adventure that arises from a genuine creative expression as a mode of escapism from the consciousness reality into a space of unlimited possibilities and happiness.
Mainly using colour pencils for his drawing, Miyake's expression in art is as much about his direct, natural engagement with the artwork through the medium as it is the involvement engaging the artwork with the viewers. Miyake often involves himself guised in handmade costumes of animals, such as the Minotaur, octopus, beaver and his invented character, Sweet-san, and performs live drawings in attempt to connect art and popularity. He has stated, "To wear the character costume is an expression of making a portrait of myself. I feel something is missing just showing a completed work." In Minotaur vs Kraken (Lot 1505), we see the layered traces of Miyake's deliberate yet precise pencil and colour pencil marks in this performance of planned spontaneity. In such works, we not only see the exhibition of his uniquely original illustrative skills, but also a continuation of thematic visions and expression of the creative versatility in forms and medium of this rising star of Japanese contemporary art.