In his highly original paintings, Japanese artist Yu Sugawara creates transfigured individuals—he says he gives “morphology” to “ideology”, that is, structure and shape to a person’s thoughts and emotions, an incarnation to his spirit.
“The essence of a human being is fantasy,” writes Yu. “A cognitive revolution occurred in the transition period from an ape (monkey) to a person (human) in the history of our species, and people got a world of huge ideas in their minds. That ability was ‘to be able to handle something that does not really exist.’”
Yu sees everything as a construct and creation—from rules to nations to God—a product of our extraordinary capacity for dreaming and mythmaking. His paintings are basically metamorphosed portraits where he innovatively depicts the mental processes of characters (as in stewards, writers, geographers) or some behavioural quality (say, trust between a man and a woman). He stretches the skin or carves the skull of his subjects, making them strange, grotesque, humorous, even beautiful.
Yu was born in 1977 in the city of Saitama. He learned graphic design and classical techniques of oil and tempera in a design school in Tokyo. After graduation, he held an exhibition around the Ginza district of the capital. His works have been displayed regularly in Japan since 2000. They are also part of private collections in Sweden and the US.
Images used with permission.