Graduating from Tokyo's Tama Art University in 2004, it wasn't until after working for several years as a caretaker that artist Atsushi Takahashi started painting his densely-worked portraits. Using a technique that involves building up layers of carefully-controlled swirls, Takahashi illustrates the faces of people he has met with the multitudinous looping lines symbolizing their stories. Recently on display with the Edel Gallery at Aqua Art Miami, we had the chance to get to know his work a little better when we visited earlier this month.
After reflecting on the individuals he came to know while working in a nursing home, Takahashi took the ways their lives overlapped with others and literally interpreted the relationships with intersecting lines of paint. Based on the depth of each person's story, the layers range from aggressive to minimal with all of them beautifully distorted to turn the emotional level up or down.
Through the manipulated chaos, Takahashi makes his feelings about his subject clear with images that convey warmth and affection. Soft shapes and vibrant colors (bringing Alex Katz' gorgeously simple figures to mind) offset pensive titles such as "The fact that you are there," "What you are hoping in your mind," or "So, you are gone into distance," suggesting the inherent contradiction loneliness makes to his humanist perspective.
Takahashi's paintings also draw parallels to the political portraits of Zeng Fanzhi and his similarly multi-layered style, yet offer a more hopeful stance than the famed Chinese artist.
Check out more images after the jump.