Making movies is great if you want the fame and excitement, but for real artistic fulfillment there’s nothing like becoming an actual paint-and brush artist. This seems to be the conclusion that leading Japanese filmmaker “Beat” Takeshi Kitano has come to over his long and successful career.

As his movies increasingly run out of steam, Takeshi has been devoting a growing portion of his time to creating artworks in paint or sculpture. In 2010 the Foundation Cartier, a prestigious culture outlet in the French capital even granted him carte blanche to curate a show of his own art. The result was “Gosse de Peintre,” French for “Painter’s Kid,” a reference to his own father, who was a house painter. This Paris show has now been lovingly recreated at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery.

One of Kitano's paintings.
While Takeshi’s definitive movies gave him the image of a hard-boiled tough guy, in his art he comes across as naive and innocent, with childish doodles and garish acrylic caricatures. The exhibition also includes installations, including one where scale models of animals have been transformed otaku-like into weapons, a stall where participants can fire paintball guns at cut-outs of dinosaurs, a machine that produces random Jackson Pollock-style paintings, and a large, clanking cross between a steam engine and a pedal-powered sewing machine, complete with two giant disembodied feet (complete with socks!).

Takeshi is dismissive of his abilities, but paints and makes art for the sheer joy of it. While it is easy to sneer at much of the output in this exhibition, it is also hard to resist the playful enthusiasm with which these works have been created. Takeshi clearly had more fun making the artworks for this exhibition than he did making his films. The cynical tough guy act was clearly a front.


20th July 2012
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