Features

Kensuke Koike

It’s difficult to place his art in a specific category, its extensive work touches many ways of expression: painting, sculpture, installations and video art. In fact, he says, “Is up to ideas to choose the way they’ll show themselves”; thus avoiding any limits of creativity, letting it flow, free to materialize in different forms each time.

Text Daniela Lumastro
All images Courtesy by the artist

An example of his poetry is the series of photographs “Single Image Processing”, exposed earlier this year at the Milanese Ciocca Arte Contemporanea gallery for the “Saved by the bell” exhibition, a sentence that alludes to an ancient mortuary practice widespread in England centuries ago, and according to which the coffin, before being buried, had to be internally provided with a bell, so anyone would be able to play it if the person’s death was only apparent. The title, even if in an ironic way, describes perfectly the work of the artist, who perform a similar operation. The photographs have not been taken by Koike himself, they are snapshots from another time, forgotten and discarded shots of ordinary people. Old emotional memories that belonged to somebody else; pieces of an individual story that emerges through scenes of everyday life. The artist, rather than reviving, gives images a new life, giving the characters a second chance to live in a new surrounding scenery; creating an element of dynamism in the snapshot, as if it was an action stopped a long time ago. Koike manipulates these “relics” creating a sort of collage; knock out minutely small pieces and then put them back in the same image, profoundly altering the look and giving it a strange and surreal dimension. He experiences many different ways of photography modification without ever introducing external elements, in order to change the reality represented and creating a sort of imbalance in the picture.

Not introducing other images in his works is indeed a limit, but at the same time it allows him to study solutions of details that he would never have noticed instead. The editing techniques, with almost imperceptible gestures, which Koike applies, are varied: from foldings to burnings, scraping out part of the image and cutting it out, getting lost in limitless possibilities that are still being tested .

Consciously or unconsciously in Koike’s art there are multiple references to various Japanese art techniques. The concept of assigning a new use and a new life to an object that is now faded into obscurity seems to refer to the Japanese practice of kintsugi, a technique in which gold was used to melt pieces of a broken or damaged item together and increasing its value giving it a new use. Koike also seems to resume Japanese prints Ukiyo-e Sumi-e which are the first to represent domestic scenes and daily life together with the two-dimensionality of the images, which, in this case, is given by photography. They also use simple lines to suggest an idea of movement. On the other hand the Sumi-e, prints present a pictorial monochrome style that uses only black ink: the lines drawn with this ink can not be removed or changed. Koike works in the same way in his black and white images as there is no possibility of correction or mistakes of even a single millimeter of the work, as it would involve its loss. His technique requires practice and concentration, a steady hand and a great talent.

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