Taisuke Kinugasa's magical and unique work where dreams and memories intersect. "Listening to the Museum #7" - Part 1

"HERALBONY TONE FROM MUSEUM ~Listening Museum~" is a podcast that started this spring and focuses on the artists under contract with the welfare experimental unit Heralbony.

Sara Ogawa, an actor, filmmaker, and writer, and Takaya Matsuda, CEO of HERALBONY, will be the interviewers. As they listen carefully to the art, they will touch upon the personality and life story of this "unique artist" that can be seen beyond his work.

Our guests who came all the way from Kyoto to our studio are Taisuke Kinugasa, a unique artist whose fantastical colors attract viewers, and his mother, Tamami. We asked him about the illustrated diary that started his career as an artist, and the fateful encounter with the two teachers for his family.

#Protected by paintings

(A soft humming sound can be heard.)

Ogawa: I heard your voice a little while ago. Takaya, what kind of artist will you be introducing to us today?

Takaya: Yes. Today we have an artist called Taisuke Kinugasa who came all the way from Kyoto to our studio in Roppongi. He uses acrylic and oil paints to depict cityscapes, wine, beautiful lifestyles and scenery from all over the world, drawing you into his world.

What did you think when you saw the work, Sara?

Taisuke Kinugasa "Let's go to the land of dreams (2)"

Ogawa: Earlier, I was shown a handkerchief with Taisuke's work printed on it, and the streetscape is very colorful. When I look closely, I find a lot of discoveries, like coffee cups and writing. It's like an amusement park-like streetscape. I thought it was exciting to look at it. Today, I would like to talk to Taisuke and his mother, Tamami, about how such works are created. Taisuke Kinugasa and Tamami, thank you very much!

Tamami: Thank you very much.

Taisuke: Thank you very much.

Ogawa: Thank you. How are you feeling today? Are you feeling a bit nervous?

Takaya: It seems like you don't feel nervous at all (laughs).

Ogawa: It was very relaxing.

Tamami: (to Taisuke) Are you okay? OK?

Takaya: Taisuke, you really like Tokyo Tower. You often use Tokyo Tower as a subject for your work. We are currently filming at Roppongi Hills, and Tokyo Tower is right in front of us. What do you think, Taisuke? Tokyo Tower.

Taisuke: (in a low voice) It makes me happy, doesn't it?

Takaya: Thank you.

Ogawa: I understand you came all the way from Kyoto today, but you come to Tokyo quite often, right?

Tamami: Yes, that's right. I regularly hold exhibitions at galleries and cafes in Ginza and Omotesando, so I come here a few times a week.

Takaya: Taisuke's works sell really well. It's amazing.

Ogawa: The moment I saw it, I wanted to have it.

Takaya: I also have a piece of art that I personally own on display in front of my desk. It's a really beautiful piece with a chocolate tin with "Godiva" on it. I work remotely with that image as my support.

Tamami: (to Taisuke) Thank you.

Taisuke: Thank you very much.

Takaya: Thank you.

Ogawa: The T-shirt that Taisuke is wearing today also has your own design on it.

Tamami: Yes. This is a resort-themed item from a brand I collaborated with a few years ago.

Ogawa: Your father was here outside the studio today, and he was also wearing a shirt that Taisuke painted on. Did Taisuke paint your bag himself?

Tamami: The bag I have is a collaboration with a designer. The designer comes up with a design that Taisuke can easily draw on, and we hold regular exhibitions where Taisuke improvises and draws on the bags. We have a gallery on the first floor of our house, which also displays works by other artists, and we hold regular exhibitions there. *1

Takaya: Now that I think about it, I always feel that Taisuke is really checking out his own work. When I went to a gallery in Kyoto, he was checking out how his own work was displayed. Previously, when we held a large-scale exhibition called "Heralbony Art Collection" at Hankyu Umeda, we set up Kinugasa's studio within the venue.

*1 In addition to his work with HERALBONY, Taisuke Kinugasa is also active as an individual artist.

Ogawa: Amazing.

Takaya: Thank you for coming to work every day.

Tamami: That was fun!

Takaya: We spent those turbulent days together, and what I thought at the time was that Taisuke felt like he was protected by his own work. I thought the same when I saw him checking his handkerchief even now.

Taisuke: (staring at the handkerchief lying there)

Tamami: For Taisuke, it must feel like reading a novel he wrote himself.

Takaya: That's true.

#Conversation through pictures

Ogawa: I think you produce a lot of work, but where do you usually create your work?

Tamami: We have a gallery on the first floor of our house, and we take our paintings downstairs and hang new works there. I think this started when Taisuke was about 18 years old.

Ogawa: When did you start drawing?

Tamami: I started drawing when I was about 2 years old. Suddenly, words started being drawn on the floor, the walls, all sorts of places.

Ogawa: Eh, are they letters?

Tamami: Brand names, for example, if it's a gas station, there's only names of gas stations, or if it's an electrical appliance, there's only names of electrical appliances.

(Taisuke yawns loudly)

Ogawa: When I was telling him how amazing Taisuke was, he let out a big yawn next to me. He looked really relaxed.

Tamami: It's quiet, I guess. I'm happy. I'm sensitive to noise.

Takaya: Many people with autism have sensitive hearing.

Ogawa: I see. How did your mother feel when she saw Taisuke drawing on the floor and walls at the time?

Tamami: One day, when I went to the room where Taisuke and my older child were, I found a logo drawn in beautiful letters on the wall. I think Taisuke was about one and a half years old. When I asked my older child, he said, "Tai-kun drew it," and I was surprised. I wondered when he had learned to draw something like that. It was a little interesting, so I decided that he could draw on the wall, and when I put some crayons and paper there, he started drawing.

Ogawa: From there, I started to recognize my talent and develop it.

Tamami: Rather than that, I thought that because he didn't express anything in words at all, this would help us get to know Taisuke better.

Takaya: It was the same when you created your studio for the recent exhibition, but it really felt like Taisuke was having conversations with his paintings.

Tamami: Yes, I was surprised.

Takaya: When your child was looking closely at Taisuke's drawing, he suddenly started drawing Anpanman.

Tamami-san: When a girl comes, I draw Chibi Maruko-chan. Just a moment ago I was drawing a cool-looking wine bottle!

Takaya: That's right.

Tamami: When boys came, I started drawing Doraemon and Anpanman.

Ogawa: There are a variety of characters too.

Tamami: Once everyone gets together and starts saying, "It's Anpanman!", they just keep changing it one after another.

Takaya: Taisuke himself doesn't fluently ask questions like "What do you like?" But I was really shocked by the sight of the boy staring intently at Taisuke and him responding to him.

Tamami-san: Children are so pure, that even without conversation, they somehow sense, "This girl would be happy if I drew Chibi Maruko-chan," and they draw it. I think it's like a conversation of inspiration.

Taisuke: (humming softly in a low voice) Hmm, hmm.

Takaya: You've been drawing a lot up until now, but how has your style changed?

Tamami: At first, it was all words. Just like Takaya's older brother, Shota. The company name, "HERALBONY," was a word that Shota invented and kept writing, and I thought that was exactly the same thing when I heard it.

Takaya: Wow! Thank you!

Tamami: So, since it was a bit boring to just have words, I thought I'd try making a picture diary, so I bought one and gave it to him. He drew a picture on the top half, and underneath it he wrote things that happened that day, like "I went to the bakery" or "I rode a unicycle," or things like that. One day, Taisuke fell off the swing of the jungle gym. He fell headfirst and had to get stitches at the hospital.

Ogawa: Really?!

Takaya: Scary!

Tamami: But the routine of writing the day's diary is important, so I have to do it every day. The picture I draw is of my head stuck in the ground. It's like in manga, like a bang (laughs).

Takaya: That’s amazing (laughs)

Ogawa: Wow, I'd love to see Taisuke's picture diary.

Takaya: I would really love to organize an exhibition about Taisuke's life at HERALBONY someday.

Tamami: I have left a lot of documents, so please take a look!

(Taisuke-san looks intently into Takaya-san's face)

Takaya: Thank you for taking such a good look.

Ogawa: Ah, he's tapping Takaya on the shoulder.

Tamami: My picture diary evolved and eventually became more like an abstract painting. I continued doing that until I was almost 20 years old. It also gave me the opportunity to have conversations with my teachers at school. Every morning I would bring my picture diary to the staff room and say things like, "Yesterday, Taisuke went swimming."

Takaya: Wow. I think your current works have established a unique style and colors that make it immediately recognizable that it is your work the moment you see it. What kind of changes did you go through?

Tamami: From the very beginning, for example if I drew an elephant, if there was Taisuke's elephant and a circus man next to it, then the character Taisuke's circus man would be already established from the very beginning, just like an anime character.

Takaya: I see.

Tamami: So, nothing has changed. Now I have more art supplies and I draw all kinds of things, but the drawings I make as a rough sketch, starting with colored pencils or crayons, are basically the same as the drawings in my elementary school diary. They gradually turn into landscapes and wide views, but Taisuke has always had things that pop into his mind.

Takaya: I see.

Ogawa: Your artistic talent has been with you since you were about two years old.

Tamami: Yes, that's true. Miffy's face is made up of dots. I've always thought it was interesting how Taisuke's paintings can be created just by placing the dots. My life is really messed up, with all my family members being pushed around, so it's tough. But when I look at Taisuke's paintings, I feel a little better. It makes me want to do my best tomorrow too.

Takaya: When I watch Taisuke draw, I can see that it's not only his own talent, but also the combination with his mother that makes it possible.

Tamami: Well, that's just what happened.

Takaya: When Taisuke was drawing, his mother would quickly brush the water away. In terms of a dentist's office, we were like the dentist and his assistant.

Tamami: At first, I used colored pencils and crayons, so I was able to draw without any effort. If I go to an atelier and suddenly start using oil paints, it's difficult. It all gets mixed up and the picture gets dirty. But my teacher was really nice. He told me, "Do it in a way that's easy for you, Taisuke." For example, you usually learn that "if you mix red and white, it becomes pink," but he said, "You don't need to learn that at all." "If you want pink, just put some pink paint, and if you want green, put some green paint in, and Taisuke can choose from there and draw freely." That's what the teacher said, without any guidance at all. That's how it started. So, Taisuke quickly picked up the paint and handed it to me, and that's how the style was established.

Ogawa: It must have been a really good encounter.

Tamami: Yes. It was very free. I had been looking for some clue and going to various classes, but this was the first time Taisuke was able to fit in. He wanted to go every day. (To Taisuke) Ah, right?

Taisuke: (Stands up and sways)

Takaya: It's like we're standing up and dancing. Thank you. That's great. It might be the first time in history that someone has done that. Dancing in a studio.

~Continued in Part 2 ~

Taisuke Kinugasa

Born in Kyoto in 1989. He has been drawing since he was two years old. To live is to draw. With a sense of color and sensitivity that has been described as magical, he paints a world full of light and color. His artwork has received high praise both in Japan and abroad. Based at Gallery Miracle in Kyoto, he has held solo exhibitions in various locations, including Tokyo, Kyoto, Okinawa, Sapporo, Osaka, Okayama, and New York. He has worked on numerous projects, including collaborations with various major companies, commercialization, and exhibitions in commercial spaces and public facilities. His large votive plaques are on permanent display at the votive plaque site at Kyoto Kamigoryo Shrine and Hakuun Shrine within the Kyoto Imperial Palace.

"HERALBONY LIFE MUSEUM ~Listening Museum~" is available for free

Based on the concept of "imagining the history of an unconventional artist through his art," this program listens closely to the art and touches upon the personality and life story of one "unconventional artist" that can be seen beyond his work.

The two MCs are Sara Ogawa, an actor, filmmaker and writer, and Takaya Matsuda, CEO of HERALBONY. Each episode focuses on a writer under contract with HERALBONY, and welcomes intellectually disabled writers, their families and welfare facility staff as guests.

It is available every Sunday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon Music.

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