One of the most bizarre emerging artists on the international art scene, Yuichi Ikehata, of Chinese origin, creates a series of photographs through which he represents the reality and unreality of the material. This expressive form allows him to penetrate into what is the human condition. The individual, as a social being, becomes one of the privileged themes in his research that expresses the anguish and anxiety of the posthuman world. Ikehata reminds us that we are an uncertain existence, a fragile reality subject to movement and the passage of time. In this constant agitation, the artist manages to recover at the same time “a way of being real and unreal”. The lens focuses on intertwined sculptures of cables and wires and thus reproduces a perfect combination of the properties of matter and digital art.
In this sense, “Fragments of long-term memory” collects fragments of deteriorated and deficient reality, merges them and gives them shape. However, the result is nothing more than a hybrid, a fractured and fragmented being that makes the line between reality and fiction really difficult and fleeting. On the other hand, it is Yuichi Ikehata himself who warns that it is not necessary to separate them. Indeed, the moment we divide them, we lose the true essence of both. And then, he underlines, “staying on the border is an adventure. I find it simply funny.” Observing his photographic works one cannot fail to be invaded by disturbing feelings, an asphyxiation that paralyzes us. This expressive intensity is amplified precisely by the reconstruction of the three-dimensional subject through digital manipulation, thus developing a series of 2D photographs: sculptures to be photographed and then adding missing parts of the body such as the skin and eyes.
Simone Marino-Cicinelli: Can you describe the techniques and your working method?
Yuichi Ikehata: My series entitled “Fragment of MLT” is a photographic work. The first step is to take a picture of my body. Then I make sculptures using weaving cables and wires. Sculptures to be photographed and synthesized with photos.
SM-C: How and when was born this artistic research towards the limits of the human born? Does it respond to a personal interest or to a social reality?
Yuichi Ikehata: To answer the first question, I used to paint pictures. However, right now I am using the photographs with the aim of conveying my concept, that is to say trying to find and express the boundary between reality and fiction. Before this concept took shape, I started creating works focused on the theme of ambiguous anxiety. The theme arises from the personal desire to express our constant state of anxiety. The basis is that we live a very uncertain existence and I wanted to give it shape. Therefore, this series was born using a narrative plot, just as I was researching existence and its constituent elements.
SM-C: How does this state of instability arise?
Yuichi Ikehata: This precarious condition depends on our way of being as we live in constant motion. The “present” you thought you captured is already part of the past. The fear of something catastrophic is also caused by the deep insecurity we experience over time. In this sense, it is very difficult to grasp the real and the unreal. For example, when I was painting (oil painting), I was trying to express myself through photorealism. At the time, I was trying hard to observe reality more than anyone else. I drew my work while rejecting unreality, as if it were an illusion, and trying to understand what reality really was. And the more I looked for it, the more I lost sight of the reality of matter. Obviously the reasons that pushed me to paint on canvas are not the same as now. I can no longer paint in oil since I don’t know what subject I should paint. After a while, I began to reflect on my vague anxiety. Anxiety makes you very aware. So I decided to create a carefree work, using unrealistic scenes that I had previously archived as disappointments. Over the years, I have discovered that if I separate the real from the unreal, I can’t find either one or the other. On the other hand, if I try to have a positive view of both reality and unreality, even if I can only find one of the two, I can use it as a key to find the other element. With “Fragments of MLT” I can express reality and unreality in each symbolic piece. I believe I cannot completely distinguish reality and unreality from physical existence. I repeat that we must not differentiate them. I have focused my work on this theme. However, all this work cannot bear fruit if I do not deal closely with the social reality that is within myself. In this sense, not only the interest of an individual is reflected, but also the social realities that generally cannot be communicated.
SM-C: The fact that your works and characters are depicted without arms, hands, eyes and nose, could it mean, for example, the fragmentation of society, memory or the human body which is a social animal?
Yuichi Ikehata: While I create and / or meditate on a work, I feel I am between reality and unreality. Staying on the border is an adventure. I find it just funny. Obviously, the viewer is free to perceive my art as he observes it. My intention is not to limit it. However, as you can see from the title of my work, “Fragment of MLT” expresses the fragmentation of memory. Memory is the association of important things that are remembered as long-term memories. Connected but unimportant parts are categorized as deficient. I make important parts, omitting the missing ones.
SM-C: Do you think sculpture is the most appropriate medium?
Yuichi Ikehata: In my “Fragment of MLT” series, I make sculptures through my creative process which I explained earlier. However, I want the series to remain a photographic work.
SM-C: What relationship is there between body and fragmentation in your works?
Yuichi Ikehata: The body is something that symbolically shows the object. My goal remains to omit the unnecessary object, thus creating a work according to a specific point of view. This is exactly what the title “Fragment of MLT” shows. In other words, it is a symbolic representation of fragmented long-term memory.
SM-C: Are artists born or made?
Yuichi Ikehata: I think that beauty is born and art is made. An artist is that person who creates the art for which he has found a work.
Yuichi Ikehata, Frammento di MLT, 2014
Yuichi Ikehata, Frammento di MLT, 2014
Yuichi Ikehata, Frammento di MLT6, 2015
Yuichi Ikehata, Frammento di MLT8, 2015