Modern Japanese Art in Delhi: Life Is a Battle by Masahiro Fukuyama

Posted by Stefan Heil • Saturday, April 10. 2010 • Category: Arts and Beyond
In the last week of February 2010, the Mocha Arthouse in Delhi became witness to some of the most exciting art on display anywhere in the city, and not just a few visitors’ jaws were seen dropping due to the pictures hanging from the walls. So, you might ask yourself what could have caused such surprise in the faces of the visitors?

The answer to that is quite simple. The art on display – pictures of performances by Masahiro Fukuyama and a video installation by Yo Sato (who we will very soon introduce to this blog’s audience in one of the forthcoming articles) – is thought-provoking and leaves most people wondering if they have seen anything remotely similar before in their lives. And out of those people, most will surely answer with a straight "no" to that question...

Photo by: Federica Plamarin

The pictures featured in this article (and at the exhibition at Mocha Arthouse) are photographs taken from Masahiro’s performances wearing the 'armours' he designed for his line of works called "Life Is a Battle". These 'armours' are made of a most diverse range of materials, such as leather, cloth, sponges, silver, gold, acrylic, fake fur, feathers and many more, and they depict Masahiro’s feelings or concepts towards life in general. But to describe what his art is all about, it might be best to use his own words:

"The history of human beings is that of battles.
From ancient times human beings lived, regardless of age or sex, fighting for something precious for them that they longed for; and sometimes they won or lost it.
Battle is the act that hurts one's body and heart to gain something and to fulfil such a purpose; we have made and developed armours.
I suppose battle in the past was a simple act in which all were decided by physical strength. But nowadays, the battle in which we live is diversified with many complicated things and alters its aspects moment by moment; and along with this current, armours that protect ourselves also change. Human beings would eternally put on beautiful and splendid armours and repeat to the last gasp their battles against something on the battlefield named life: in my opinion, that is to live." (Masahiro Fukuyama)

Below you can see some of the pictures that were exhibited at Mocha Arthouse, and some of Masahiro’s explanations of the concept behind each work.

Be a man

Theme: The aesthetics (beauty) of a man (exaggerated display of strength)

Concept: A man should be emotionally and physically strong. It is important for a man to have pride. A man's strength is measured by his physical strength, tolerance, and his ability to bluff himself through a situation. There are times when a man uses this bluff to build himself up and in the process improves gradually. This is basically to attract the opposite sex which becomes this identity as well as brings out the man in him. Pride, strength, and tolerance are symbolised in this piece.

Elegant Slave

Photo by: Namiko Kitaura

Theme: To be beautiful it keeps aging. Beautifully growing old.

Concept: There are many types of human beings. However, most of human beings refuse to think and want to belong to the group. Then they might get comfort much like volupté instead of their own identities. In other words, I would say human beings are the hedonists that dislike loneliness. This might be one of the possibilities in life.
If so...
I will give you great pleasure for a moment.

Otoko Yoroi

Photo by: Masahiro Fukuyama

Theme: Inspire

Concept: My life is to keep fighting against the lazy ego, because an ego trip must be to threaten myself just like a cancer cell devours the human body.
This armour is not only a tool for my battle but also the symbol of the decision and power.

Okina Yoroi

Photo by: Frederica Palmarin

Theme: To be beautiful it keeps aging. Beautifully growing old.

Concept: History and wisdom of a person carved for the wrinkle like an annual ring. Everything cannot escape equally from an aged thing. If that is it, I want to be a manly and beautiful old man without a flinch.

The dedication of Soul

Photo by: Namiko Kitaura

Theme: Wings of the Soul

Concept: This is the armour of freedom. It can protect the body and the soul. Its wings also can help the soul to fly to a beloved person.

About Masahiro Fukuyama:

Masahiro Fukuyama was born on the 21st of July 1976 in Kumamoto, Japan. He studied from 1997 to 2002 at the Tokyo National University of Art and Music, which was followed by a stay at the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam throughout 2004. After going back for some years to Tokyo, Masahiro now lives and creates in New Delhi, India. One of the major themes of his work is "seeing life as a battle". It is his perspective on human society that reflects in his artwork, which ranges from sculpture and painting to performance art.

More information on Masahiro can be found here:

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