Keisuke Watanabe


photo: Jorg Hacker

Collaboration with Indian dancer Shakti
(The Garage International Performance in 2001, Edinburgh, Scotland)

I was a musician to begin with. My deepest influences came two flautists, Moyse, and Yoshida Masao; I took in everything about them- their musicianship, their artistry, their whole way of living.
The towering spiritual presence of both of them is the basis of my art and the source of my inspiration.
Whenever I come up against a hard problem in my painting, I transpose it as it were into musical terms, and then I can find my own way of solving it.
Working on a painting is for me like playing music, and I struggle with its composition as if it were musical composition.
Before starting work on a painting, I always go over in my mind what matters for me most in art. Above all, this is the vitality, the feeling of overflowing life, that comes from motion and light and tensed-up energy.

Or, to be more precise, from:-
rhythm; repetition; balance, disruption of balance; staying within set forms, or improvising;
tension, relaxation; hardness, softness; sharpness, dullness;
unevenness and Baroque contortions, or flowing elegance;
warmth and cold; dirt, beauty; discoloration and morbidity; smells, fragrance;
energetically getting my teeth into a work, or throwing one off with cool abandon; paring down or building up; erasing, redrawing;
likeness, unlikeness;
bright colors or monochrome; containment within the frame or bursting out from it; tranquility or sudden violence;
following tradition or breaking with it;
refinement and coarseness; common and uncommon sense; propriety and impropriety; Thanatos (-) or Eros (+); acting normally or eccentrically;
clothed, unclothed; an aristocratic-looking prostitute;
the agedness of a mountain hermit; the infancy of a heavenly cherub; young and old and male and female.

Within the restrictions imposed by my materials, I struggle to break the mould of myself- although, when I think of myself in this way, the image comes to mind of Beethoven with his wild hair, in the throes of giving violent birth to a composition, and I have to laugh. The composers I really wish to emulate, after all, are the patient, slow-developing types like Cesar Franck and Anton Bruckner.
If, after all the blood, sweat and tears, after giving my all, after rendering myself almost unconscious with the convulsive effort - if, after all this mad struggle, I can advance as little as one hundredth of a millimeter from where I was before, I am happy; and I am happier still, the better I am able to work in this spirit.


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