Whether it is possible to show pixiv paintings at art universities

Mr. : First, I’d like to say that this exhibition is a historic one for contemporary Japanese art. The reason is that up until now, the basis for the acceptance of anime-like illustrations in the contemporary art world was the Bijutsu Techo special feature “Pop/Neo-Pop” (*5), published in 1992. In particular, it was the discussion between Kodai Nakahara, Kenji Yanobe, and Takashi Murakami that allowed for entrance into art’s hallowed halls. I just wanted to share that fact before we went on. First there was Hi-Red Center, avant-garde yet humorous in context, then GUTAI, Mono Ha, New Painting and then “Pop/Neo-Pop,” From there, I remember seeing Noi Sawaragi-san’s “Anomaly” (Roentgen Kunst Institut, 1992) and “Ground Zero Japan” (Art Tower Mito, 1999-2000), among others, and decided that I wanted my work to begin from there. For example, the point at issue between Kodai Nakahara’s “Nadia Sofvi” and Takashi Murakami’s “Project Ko2” was the problem of ‘citations’ versus ‘originals’. I myself felt more potential in Murakami’s style of breaking otaku culture down and re-presenting it, and I feel a similar issue in the relationship between us and Chaos*Lounge, which is the topic of discussion today. After what happened with Chaos*Lounge in 2011, what path should the rest of us take? There is pixiv (*6), but I’d like to discuss this more along the lines of contemporary art in Japan. Also, of all the artists participating in this exhibition, I’m the oldest and of a different generation so I still don’t find myself getting all that sincerely fired up about social networking services. I am almost under the impression that anyone who is able to get so absorbed in them must have a lot of free time on their hands or they’re “neet” (young people not in education, employment or training), so there’s definitely a generational difference in values.

NaBaBa : It’s getting harder for me as well. (Laughs)

JNTHED : It’s definitely not a break from work… The society within social networking has given birth to new responsibilities and obligations. It’s reversed the natural order of things.

Mr. : Right? It feels to me like college or “chu-ni” (slang pointing to those who crave the limelight or are self-absorbed in a manner that is characteristic of adolescents).

oguchi : I do illustrations while also studying art in college and there’s a clear difference between where my illustrations are valued versus where my art is valued. What’s more, they’re contradictory of each other. So instead of creating works based on how they will be received by either side — this sounds abstract but — I figure, they’re all looking at the same thing, so my job is to bring out the best in the thing they are looking at. The works I’m showing in this exhibition feature relatively normal looking girls. For example, if the girl has beautiful legs, everyone is going to be viewing those same legs, so I try to put as much as I can into them with the hope that I will be able to increase the depth of understanding among different people. I try to remove as much as I can of the ‘copy-and-paste’ aspects of the illustrations you see on pixiv, but at the same time, I want to dispel the hardened, rigid image of art as much as possible. I want to create a simplicity that brings “fun” into the illustration. I think that’s where the ‘originality’ of my illustrations lies.

JNTHED : If you raise the integrity of each element, you elevate the appeal of the entire work.

NaBaBa : Oguchi-san, do you seek a landing place between formal art and illustration?

oguchi : The two are entangled. I do hope the two will one day meet halfway and I’ll be able to find a final landing point, so I’m currently learning about art in college while thinking about the people who illustrate. It’s a pretty greedy situation.

NaBaBa : So for example, can you show your illustrations to your university professors?

oguchi : That’s the thing I’m troubled about. I have to stick to one side. My friends don’t know that I’m “Oguchi”.

NaBaBa : Seriously?

oguchi : At school I of course go by my real name and if possible, I’d like to keep the work done in that name separate from the work I do as Oguchi. If I don’t, then I run the danger of people viewing my work from the perspective of “well, he does illustrations, so…”

Mr. : So it’s similar to being on social media using an anonymous account?

oguchi : It’s not like it’s a different “me” but I’d say that both sides have their good points.

Mr. : In other words, there’s a strong sense of unease, right? Within your university, people will pull away from your illustrations – they feel that it’s just “not right.”

NaBaBa : I think that’s a problem that a lot of art students, not just Oguchi-san, have to deal with these days. When I was a student, there were lots of students who drew otaku-like illustrations in private on pixiv but most of them, like Oguchi-san, kept the two separate, and didn’t tell anyone at their universities. When submitting a drawing as a class assignment, they used to adjust the taste so that it agreed with the university’s standards.

JNTHED : I was bumbling about in an even more subdivided framework within the illustration subculture… (Laughs)