Japanese artist Kazuki Takamatsu famously creates hologram-like works of art, yet the Lolita-like girls portrayed in stark black and white colors often have more going on than meets the eye. Takamatsu says the contrast of black and white can reflect the underlying motivations for adornment. For some, beautification is about empowerment and boldness, while for others it can be an attempt to hide insecurities and self-image issues. In either case, Takamatsu creates the original idea using 3D software and then meticulously recreates it by hand. The final results are haunting nymph-like girls that seem to float off the jet-black backgrounds like sensual ghosts.

Many people who look at your artwork might think it is entirely digital, not meticulously hand painted. Please explain the process behind your artwork with the depth-mapping software, clay models and actually painting the pieces.

I used to make clay models, but now I use the modeling software ZBrush to create the model and render it. I have the factory print the images on tarpaulin, and then I paint on it. I paint with acrylic gouache and acrylic medium by hand and use airbrush to add some color. The concept is hybrid, meaning it is hand painting and computer generated, living body and virtual body. I make the layers to imagine the quantification of the systematic society.

Is there an overarching theme to your most recent pieces?

I love people who are customized and decorated. When people do makeup, tattoos, get dressed up and workout, their originality is nobler, stronger and more beautiful than before. But they might also customize to hide their inferiority complexes or to deceive others. The origin of makeup is magical and religious, a symbol of bravery, and to inspire and stimulate mentally. People who live in the modern world get the armament of beauty, strength and character through their effort and inquiry. As for annotation, the pattern and emblem are just the symbol of the decoration, and I found them from the design materials. There is no meaning of individual, religion, politics or group.

You have said the black and white palette symbolizes dichotomies like good and evil. In what ways do the good and evil interact with the character at the center of the image?

There are two types of people: One is a person who thinks their character is good or positive, and another who does not.

In a previous interview, you said the black and white sometimes reflect race and religion, which are potentially divisive distinctions. How do race and religion play a role in the black/white framework of the pieces?

The meaning of the reflection of race and religion is not discrimination. To use the graduation between white and black, I show the neutral position. I draw the thoughts and feelings of the character in the painting. I make the character so that you can’t imagine race and religion.

The main character is typically a young Japanese girl. What are the main sociological characteristics of a young girl as seen in Japanese culture that you wish to convey through the artwork?

You might think my character is Japanese because I am Japanese and live in Japan. But it is not. My characters represent the young generation who have negative feelings for themselves. I like their feelings because they have their own personalities.

You have said the gradation is a symbol of the character’s emotions. What are the dominant emotions expressed in your latest exhibit?

The characters break out of their shells and awaken to their self and go out to the society. It is the story of the show.

David Jenison (david@prohbtd.com) is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD.

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