The Japanese-born, Dusseldorf-based artist paints beguiling scenes of sea-shells, whales and even giant ears, where nothing is quite as it seems and the power of suggestion weaves an intricate maze of playful symbolism.

There’s a moment between sleeping and waking, when your mind slips and slides in and out of consciousness, that can feel close to a waking dream. In this liminal space, reality takes on a darker, altogether stranger tone. The same could be said of the paintings and drawings of Takeshi Makeshima, playfully interspersed with curious shapes and colours. In his spontaneous compositions (Makeshima works quickly and intuitively), furniture and objects become symbols to be fixated on, and casual interactions take on the timbre of a magic mystery maze. Searching for the way out, it becomes clear that there is no easy route through the surrealist world of Makeshima’s making.

“It is as if the experience of casting out to sea, totally alone, were transformed into the simple pleasures of painting—itself a solitary, often lonely activity”

Whales, boats and other nautical figures bob and float across these paintings, blue-tinged and as inward-looking as the dreamscapes and open water that they conjure. It is as if the experience of casting out to sea, totally alone, were transformed into the simple pleasures of painting—itself a solitary, often lonely activity. Makeshima’s visual language is one that pares back its subject and style to the bare minimum, not so much telling stories as hinting at the very beginnings of an encounter. To follow these paintings down their natural paths is to diverge and detour through personal memories and the power of suggestion, where nothing is quite as it seems, and the journey is as meditative as it is winding.

 

All images courtesy the artist. Photos by Achim Kukulies, Düsseldorf

 

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