The unique writer, Ikkei Okukameya, who captivates people with his skillful speaking, challenges himself to achieve his dream. "Listening Museum #14"

"HERALBONY TONE FROM MUSEUM ~Listening Museum~" is a podcast that launched this spring and focuses on artists contracted to the welfare experimental company 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 this time are Ikkei Okukameya, an unusual artist known for his dynamic colors and compositions, and one of his role models, Director Murabayashi of the Garden of Hope. Okukameya says he wants to sell a lot of paintings, and follows in the footsteps of his idols. What is his next goal? Please tune in to enjoy his skillful conversation.

# Charm Record

Takaya: Today, we are welcoming the long-awaited artist Kazuyoshi Okukameya from Kibo no Sono, which also includes train-loving Takuma Hayakawa and the impressive record jacket of Keisuke Mori, who have both appeared in the past. His name is cool, too. Sara, what do you think of Kazuyoshi's work now that you've seen it in person?

Ogawa: I think the colors are really beautiful. Also, this painting of people holding hands is titled "Handshake Event to Stop War," and I think it has a certain message to it.

Takaya: Kazuyoshi-san is a very young man, only 21 years old, who has published many satirical works such as "The American Prime Minister". I would like to introduce you to Kazuyoshi-san and Director Murabayashi! Nice to meet you!

Ikkei: Thank you very much!

Facility Director Murabayashi: Thank you!

Ogawa: Nice to meet you, Kazuki!

Kazuki: Nice to meet you.

 Takaya: Are you nervous?

 Kazuki: Well, yes, I am nervous.

 Takaya: Are you nervous? (laughs)

Ogawa: Your mother is here today too! I look forward to working with you.

Mother: Thank you very much.

Takaya: When I first met Ikkei, he asked me, "When will Heralbony sell my work?" Finally, I'm glad to be able to sell my original artwork at Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi. Thank you very much.

Kazuki: No, no, I just want them to sell a lot.

Takaya: That's true! It's a lot of pressure. But I'll do my best, so please support me!

Ogawa: Where did Takaya and Kazuki meet?

Takaya: At first, I was invited as a guest when "Kibou no Sono" had an exhibition at the Prefectural Art Museum in Tsu City, Mie Prefecture. When I had the opportunity to speak with them, at the end, the moderator asked, "Do you have any questions?" and Ikkei was the first to raise his hand and asked, "When are you going to sell my work?" (laughs).

Ogawa: First meeting! Amazing!

Takaya: I think that from the general public's point of view, there was a feeling of "this guy is really aggressive." But, after about two years of hard work, I think? I was finally able to work with him, and I felt a bit repentant... (laughs).

Ogawa: Do you like drawing, Ikkei?

Ikkei: I love it.

Ogawa: That's great! How long have you been drawing?

Ikkei: Well, I think I was in my second year of high school. I started oil painting when I was in my second year of high school. At first, I was always drawing with a pen. And then, that's when I started oil painting.

Ogawa: Did you choose oil paintings because there were oil paintings in "The Garden of Hope"?

Ikkei-san: Well, there is a person even more amazing than Ikkei. His name is Master Kawakami.

Takaya: Oh, it's Master Artist Kawakami!

Kazuki: He started oil painting because he admired the painter Kawakami.

Ogawa: That's right! It was out of admiration.

(Editor's note: Master Kawakami is the nickname of Mr. Kenji Kawakami, who is a member of Kibo no Sono)

Takaya: I would love to ask Murabayashi-san to explain this as well, but artist Kawakami painted with his mouth, didn't he?

Facility Director Murabayashi: That's right.

Takaya: And what's more, his work is incredibly powerful! He's an incredible artist whose work has even been exhibited at Tokyo University of the Arts. Murabayashi-san, can I ask you a little bit about the relationship between Master Kawakami and Ikkei-san?

Facility Director Murabayashi: Master Kawakami paints while laughing and dripping paint, but he is highly praised. I wanted to be like him, and my friends like Takuma Hayakawa and Keisuke Mori were also doing oil paintings. I gradually grew to admire Kawakami, and since the seniors around me were also doing it, I said to myself, "I'm going to do oil painting when I enter high school," so I thought it was about time to give it a try, and started around my second year of high school.

Kenji Kawakami, commonly known as " Master Kawakami "

Ogawa: Is Mr. Kawakami also at the Garden of Hope?

Facility Director Murabayashi: Yes. Unfortunately, painter Kawakami passed away in March 2022. Ikkei also attended the funeral. Kawakami had a treasured collection of records. He would play the records he bought as a child in his studio and be inspired to paint. His favorite record was "Red Helmet," and Ikkei said, "I'm going to inherit this record."

Ogawa: Cool!

Takaya: That's amazing.

Facility director Murabayashi said: "I will take over management from now on."

Takaya: Even management!

Facility Director Murabayashi: "I would love to have it at home. I will use it as a talisman, and I will have this 'red helmet' so that I can draw like Master Kawakami." I wonder if he is listening to it while drawing at home?

Mother: I have it framed and hanging it up.

Takaya: On the forehead. "Garden of Hope" really is like a non-fiction drama.

Ogawa: It must be a great feeling to take over the records that an artist you admire loved. Ikkei-san?

Kazuki: I'm happy, and my spirits are always on the rise.

Takaya: When you say "I'm feeling like I'm on the rise," does that mean you feel like you're going to surpass artist Kawakami?

Kazuki: That's right, that's right!

Takaya: Wow! That's nice.

Kazuki: He said he had the determination to go even further than painter Kawakami.

Takaya: That's amazing! What an incredible desire to improve!

Ogawa: Ikkei-san, I've never painted an oil painting before, so it seemed difficult to me, but how was it when you first tried it? Was it difficult?

Ikkei: At first, I didn't think oil painting was difficult. Ikkei paints oil three times. It's not like you paint one layer and then it's over. You paint another layer, paint another layer, and paint another layer, and so on.

Takaya: Wow! That's nice.

Ogawa: Is oil painting fun? What do you find fun about it?

Kazuki: He says that when you paint oil paintings, you can better understand other people's feelings.

Takaya: Really? Wow, that's amazing.

Facility Director Murabayashi: That's amazing!

Kazuki: He says he doesn't imitate others.

Takaya: Yes.

Ikkei: That's why, in my case, Ikkei, it's my role to create colors that don't imitate other people's feelings.

Ogawa: That's cool. Your own color...

Takaya: What do you think? As a director and creator yourself, you must be inspired by it, right?

Ogawa: It's the hardest thing to create your own color. I really understand the feeling of being inspired by someone you admire, wanting to get closer to them or surpass them, and searching for something new. I think it's admirable.

# No War Handshake Event

Ikkei Okukameya "Joms Nakashima guides Merkel and Johnson to their jazz dreams"

Takaya: I also wanted to ask you, Ikkei-san, your work itself is incredibly social, isn't it? For example, the work I have in front of me now is a colorful piece with many people with beautiful expressions, hearts, and various other patterns, and the title is "Joms Nakashima Guides Merkel and Johnson to the Jazz Dream." Is it a statement to society, or an antithesis to this social thing? Ikkei-san, where does your inspiration come from? I'd like to ask your mother about this too.

Ikkei: What do you mean...?

Takaya: What makes you want to depict these themes, and why do you depict presidents, politicians, and people like that?

Ikkei-san: Hmm. I watch TV, the news, or TV about social conditions, and an image pops into my head that I would like to draw, and then I draw it.

Ogawa: You often watch international situations on TV, don't you?

Takaya: Mom, was Ikkei always interested in the social world?

Mother: Yes. After watching TV, I sometimes mutter to myself, "You shouldn't do things like that." I'm basically a pacifist though.

Ogawa: Earlier you showed us a picture called "Handshake Event to Stop War." Ikkei, what was your intention when you drew this picture "Handshake Event to Stop War"?

Kazuki: There is a work that depicts war, and it was written with the feeling that if people shake hands they will become friends.

Ogawa: I guess it's a wish to hold hands and become friends.

Ikkei: Yes. So, Ikkei, there is another person I admire.

Takaya: I see.

Kazuki: This piece was created after listening to a song by a man named John Lennon and getting an image of what I wanted to portray.

Ikkei Okukameya "The Prime Minister Who Worked as a Photographer for the Beatles"

Ogawa: John Lennon. Do you remember the name of the song?

Ikkei: Imagine

Ogawa: That's exactly right.

Takaya: How did you learn about John Lennon?

Kazuki: Oh, a record!

Ogawa: Ah, I thought so! I heard before that there are a lot of records in Kibo no Sono. Even Keisuke Mori-san draws on records.

Takaya: That's true. On the other hand, do you feel any rivalry with Keisuke Mori or Takuma Hayakawa? I don't think so. (laughs)

Ikkei-san: That's why I don't draw like Keisuke Mori's. I draw with the feeling that I want to be just as good as those two.

Ogawa: Well, I guess there are some good rivalries within the Garden of Hope. They're also friends. That's wonderful. Do you all get along well?

Kazuki: I draw with everyone while chatting, doing this and that, and giving advice.

 

A live painting event held at Hankyu Umeda in October 2022 (from left: Takuma Hayakawa, Kazuyoshi Okukameya, and Keisuke Mori)

Takaya: That's a wonderful relationship.

Ogawa: When you're at the Garden of Hope, do you keep drawing? Or do you do other things?

Kazuki: I don't do anything else.

Takaya: That's amazing, that's so cool! I'd like to ask your mother too, but has your interesting character, or rather, the way you capture the hearts of so many people, been something you've had for a long time?

Mother: Yes, he loves interacting with people, and he does a lot of things on his own to really connect with people. Even when we travel, people ask him things like, "Where are you from?" (laughs).

Takaya: That's interesting! Murabayashi-san, do you have any memorable stories about you and Ikkei-san?

Director Murabayashi: There are so many that I can't remember them all (laughs). When I went to Kagawa Prefecture for an exhibition, the train from Okayama to Kagawa passed over the sea. Mori Keisuke, Hikaru and I sat by the window the whole time looking at the sea.

Takaya: Is that Hikaru-chan?

(Note: A girl enrolled in Kibo no Sono who Keisuke Mori has a crush on. In #6, there is an episode related to Mori-san and Hikaru-chan, so please read that as well.)

Facility Director Murabayashi: So, Kazuki said to a college student who was standing, "Please sit down if you like," and the student said, "Is that okay? Sorry," and was guided to a seat between Keisuke and Hikaru.

Takaya: Ahahahaha! I mean, Mori Keisuke-san declared on the radio that he has feelings for Hikaru-san, right? It's pretty cool that you interjected in the middle of that!

Ogawa: Do you like talking to different people when you go out?

Facility Director Murabayashi: I love it.

Ogawa: What incredible communication skills.

Facility Director Murabayashi: That's a bit of a problem (laughs). Even in the sauna, people talk to all kinds of different people. At those times, you just pretend you're a stranger (laughs).

Takaya: How do you speak to them?

Facility Director Murabayashi: "You have such beautiful skin!"

Takaya: Ahh! I can imagine that!

Ogawa: By the way, are there any recent social events that you are interested in? Anything you saw on the news recently that caught your attention?

Ikkei: I guess it would be guns. Maybe the Russian war.

Ogawa: That's right. Because it paints a picture of peace.

Takaya: Are you thinking about painting a piece with Ukraine as its theme?

Kazuki: Don't do it.

Mom: You drew it.

Ogawa: Oh, you drew it?

Kazuki: I drew it.

Mother: When the war started, I started drawing "Handshake Events to Stop War" at home. Since then, I've been drawing pretty much the same theme.

Ikkei Okukameya "Handshake Event to Stop War"

Takaya: That's nice. But it's really important.

Ogawa: By making pictures like that, the message can reach many people. The works sold by HERALBONY are also purchased by people overseas. Maybe they will reach people overseas too.

Takaya: That's right. Ikkei-san, is there a particular type of person you would like to buy your work? I'll let the gallerists know about it.

Ikkei: Of course, it's the rich. I want rich people to buy it.

(Everyone laughs)

Takaya: Hey, come on! No, but it's important! People who have money need to give it to us! That's so true.

Ogawa: People who have money are surrounded by a lot of different people and have influence.

Takaya: That's true. It would be great if we could reach out to those kinds of people too. Also, is there any type of person you would like to buy it? A specific person, or even a celebrity would be fine.

Ikkei: I would like children to know about Ikkei's paintings as well.

Ogawa: That sounds good.

Takaya: It's really great, isn't it? For example, school!

Kazuki: I would like children and adults around them to know more about the work "Handshake Event."

Takaya: It’s really important.

Ogawa: In order to communicate this to children, is there anything you would like to draw or do with HERALBONY?

Kazuki: I think it would be great if I could sell even one more piece of work.

Takaya: Your determination to sell is amazing! I don't think there are any other artists at HERALBONY who are as determined to sell as you are. I'm grateful for that. I think we need to take on the challenge with this kind of determination. It's important to reach as many people as possible.

# A place to aim for beyond the person you admire

Ogawa: Kazuki-san has won various awards and had his work exhibited at HERALBONY, but in March 2023, he painted a large votive plaque at Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine in Koto Ward, Tokyo, right?

Takaya: The size is also amazing.

Ogawa: This is a very innovative design for a votive plaque. What was your image in mind when you drew it?

Ikkei: This is a story about a rabbit and a turtle racing.

Ogawa: That's true. There is a rabbit and a turtle. There is a person behind the turtle. Who is this person?

Kazuki: This is me!

Ogawa: I'm a part of it!

Kazuki: In other words, we are celebrating.

 Ogawa: They are celebrating together. It's a happy picture that conveys a sense of celebration!

Takaya: That's wonderful. Ikkei, do you have any hopes for a place like "I want to display my art in this kind of place"?

Kazuki: I'd really like to have an exhibition overseas.

Ogawa: That's great! Where would you like to do it?

Kazuki: Germany!

Ogawa: Germany. Why Germany?

Kazuki: I think it was also Murabayashi's turning point.

Takaya: Murabayashi-san and Germany? What's the relationship like?

Kazuki: That's why I think Murabayashi went to Germany for university.

Ogawa: I see.

Takaya: Oh, Murabayashi-san, I thought you went to an art university in Osaka.

Facility Director Murabayashi: After that, I worked in Germany for about two years.

Takaya: That's right!

Facility Director Murabayashi: So (Okugameya) said, "I would like to go to Germany, where Dr. Murabayashi went, too."

Takaya: That's great. Many people, like painter Kawakami and Murabayashi, have shown me their talents and I want to surpass them.

Facility Director Murabayashi: That's right.

Takaya: Right! Let's surpass it.

Ogawa: Ikkei's exhibition in Germany looks really good.

Takaya: Yes. We at HERALBONY are also hoping to go to Europe next year, so we're currently doing various research and would love to have an exhibition there as well.

Ikkei-san: I would love to create many works in Europe so that more people can become aware of Ikkei's work, so I hope you will support me then!

Ogawa: Powerful!

Takaya: Hahaha! You're a great salesman.

Kazuki: I'll go too.

Takaya: Right! Of course.

Facility Director Murabayashi: I'll go then too (laughs).

Takaya: That's true! Your mother also came.

Mother: I want to go! (laughs)

Takaya: What about you, mother? Is there anything you'd like to do with Ikkei at HERALBONY in the future?

Mother: What makes me happiest is that my child has achieved self-realization, or self-liberation, and is doing something he loves. If he is given the opportunity, I think that would be great.

Takaya: As a mother, do you have any unforgettable stories with Ikkei, not just related to his paintings?

Mother: I collect a lot of records, but I can't stop collecting them! I'm a little worried about how far I'll go (laughs).

Ogawa: That's an ongoing story (laughs). Do you not just look at records, but also listen to them? Ikkei-san.

Ikkei: Well, I love listening to it, and I love washing it.

Takaya: Wash it?!

Ikkei-san: Yeah. Uh, yeah. Instead of listening to the record, I washed it and said, "That sounds great."

Ogawa: I've never heard of it before. It's amazing.

Facility Director Murabayashi: You go and buy records, right? Then, when you get home, you take out the records and wipe them down with a cleaner yourself. Then you write down everything you bought. What did you buy? What record number? What record company? What year was it released? What date? And that's when the story of "I went to buy records" ends.

Ogawa: So that's an essential part of the work.

Mother: Sometimes we play until about 2am.

Takaya: You have quite the collecting habit.

Ogawa: Are there any points you look out for when choosing records?

Kazuki: Hmm, I guess I'll choose based on the jacket.

Takaya: I guess I just bought it for the cover.

Kazuki: If I found a jacket that I thought was interesting, I'd probably buy it.

Takaya: You're a total pro. Amazing.

Ogawa: You're a real fanatic. That's really cool. I'm sure you'll continue to get inspiration from record jackets like these in the future.

Takaya: Kazuki, what do you want to be like when you become a grandfather?

Ogawa: What kind of grandfather do you want to be?

Ikkei: Hmm. Like Noda-san...

Takaya: Noda-san?

Kazuki: I still want to collect more records.

(Mother laughs)

Takaya: What kind of person is Noda-san?

Kazuki: I think there is an image of Kazuki surpassing others.

Takaya: Ah, Noda-san too!

Ogawa: There are still people who want to surpass you.

Takaya: You've even surpassed Noda-san, that's great! Who is Noda-san? Is he from a welfare facility? Or do you know him?

Kazuki: The landlord of the atelier.

Takaya: Ah! That's the old man! You're the one with the camera and the many records, right?

Ogawa: There are so many people around me who want to surpass me! What an inspiring place.

Takaya: It's a place that encourages ambition.

Ogawa: I can also feel the greatness of the Garden of Hope.

Takaya: Yeah, I felt it.

Ogawa: I'm looking forward to seeing more of Kazuki's work in the future, and I hope that at HERALBONY, Kazuki's works continue to sell well!

Takaya: I have to do my best. Really! It's a lot of pressure, but I'd appreciate your help.

Ikkei: Thank you very much.

Text by Tomoyo Akasaka

Ikkei Okukameyama

He began painting in his studio in 2015. He initially used oil-based markers to create colorful pictures, but switched to oil painting in 2019. He has a strong interest in politics and social affairs, and expresses a world that mixes fantasy and delusion with people and world events that interest him. The people and animals depicted in his bold color compositions are supposed to be in chaos, but somehow they seem harmonious and happy, which overlaps with the artist's cheerful and smiling expression. With a rich imagination, he charms those around him with his skillful speech, sometimes talking nonsense as if it were fact.

"HERALBONY TONE FROM MUSEUM ~Listening Museum~" is now 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.
You can also enjoy back issues for free.
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