The Skulls of Toru Kamei

Tokyo, Japan seems an unlikely birthplace for the artist behind these paintings.  They exhibit nothing of traditional Japanese art.  Yet that is precisely where Toru Kamei is from.  Born in Tokyo in 1976, he graduated from the Nihon University College of Art, and has exhibited and worked almost exclusively in Japan since then, in galleries such as the Naruyama and Gyokei.

His paintings are an eerie amalgamation of surrealism and 16th century vanitas styles, interspersed in some cases with mythological elements.  Skulls and skeletons, flowers and fruit, butterflies, and eyeballs are all common elements in his work, bringing to mind not only the traditional narratives of vanitas art, such as the fragility of life, but also evoking a sense of the connection between death and eroticism, and the possible workings of some mysterious magic in the background.  I am reminded of both the paintings of Victor Brauner and the writing of Georges Bataille, as well as Salvador Dali’s famous quote concerning the arousal of the erotic in every moment of life.  At the same time, I am left feeling strangely empty and somber.  Depressed.  Beauty and passion are only real because of their juxtaposition with death.  All beauty is ephemeral, destined to an eternity of darkness.  A spark.  His use of mythological human and animal hybrids seems to suggest that our everyday lives are the real myth.

He has carefully crafted paintings that eliminate any concrete references to specific cultures, times or places.  They therefore have a much broader and timeless appeal.  They reference only those things we all share as uniquely human, giving rise to a very melancholy and haunting quality.  His skulls sometimes have flowers for eyes, while the flowers sometimes have human eyeballs instead.  His flowers are flesh tones, pinks and whites and reds.  His fruits are pitted, bruised, and flesh-like.  He seems to suggest that we are all essentially the same soft, fleshy, fragile elements of nature, that we are flowers conscious of our destiny.

03_tk_89D4928E92B 8e5f93a3 09d-360-014 468165_452760791479957_2049542673_o 530786_368218109934226_871634673_n 533632_368217779934259_876612102_n 615751_365835566839147_2050260271_o 622624_366062463483124_1676986783_o 665866_367391093350261_1376381036_o 775601_403226383100065_2013782127_o 1559397_577822945640407_653883892_o 1970519_606454046110630_1998312462_n 10246754_636967099725991_1411693308693622693_n 10628765_695938060495561_1638964286512365084_o 10928989_775239339232099_4400475978331974391_n 77406189_large_3165375_4044 artwork_images_425316948_620857_toru-kamei BT-qoqQCGkKGrHgoH-DcEkJw2KwwWBKLP1R1Yww_3 kamei-flowers-2008-608x839 kamei-toru-10-608x700

 

GD Star Rating
loading...
Thanks! You've already liked this