Tetsuya Ishida

Tetsuya Ishida came of age as a painter during Japan’s “lost decade,” a time of nationwide economic recession that lasted through the 1990s. In his afflictive paintings, he captured the feelings of hopelessness, claustrophobia, and emotional isolation that burdened him and dominated Japanese society. From his early career until his untimely death in 2005, Ishida provided vivid allegories of the challenges to Japanese life and morale in paintings and graphic works charged with dark Orwellian absurdity.

Tetsuya Ishida’s paintings portray the challenges of modern society in Japan—with technology and the economy expanding at a rapid rate, its citizens are subject to extreme “physical and mental traffic.” His dreamlike works depict youthful subjects that are often lost, intermingled in machinery, or cowering from unknown predators. They are isolated and reflect the artist’s sentiment toward living in Japan, stifled by “pressure of academic and office life, social dislocation, the dulling effects of mechanization and the search for identity.” Layered brushstrokes and highly saturated color render these surreal depictions with high-voltage. Skeptical of excess culture, he uses dark humor to widen the conversation about feelings of inadequacy and insecurity in contemporary life.

All images: Courtesy of Tetsuya Ishida