Born in 1970 in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, a rural area two hours north of Tokyo, Kakinuma began studying traditional Japanese monochrome brushwork at the age of five. Kakinuma's own father, Suiryu, a renowned artist in his own right, was his first teacher and also introduced him to one of the greatest artistic influences of his life: Yukei Teshima. The flamboyant Teshima, who received international acclaim for his bold, powerful work among artists such as Picasso and Matisse, took the young Kakinuma under his wing, calling him the most promising student he had ever seen. After Teshima's death, Kakinuma continued study under one of Teshima's disciples and a giant in his own right in the Japanese monochromatic art world, Ichizyo Uematsu. In 1989, Kakinuma entered the prestigious Tokyo University of Arts and Letters as a student in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts. It was soon afterward, in 1990, that he arrived on the national stage when he became the youngest person ever to win the coveted Dokuritsu Shojindan Foundation prize for his interpretation of a classical work by the late-Edo period artist Suo Nukina.
Kakinuma's rise through the Japanese art world has been meteoric, winning one prestigious competition after another, having his life and paintings featured in several televised documentaries, and being invited to demonstrate and show his work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Kakinuma has constantly sought to break free from the strictures of his classical training and to express himself in innovative, experimental ways. His affinity for massively large monumental works reflects his belief that these large pieces, whose sheer size overwhelm the intellectual capacity of the artist, force him to paint in accordance with what he calls the Eternal Now. The Eternal Now represents a one-shot, winner-take-all sensibility that permits no uncertainty and no hesitation, and allows no regrets and no revision. It is the quintessential expression of Japanese art – bringing together the years of tedious, repetitive study of technique and theory with the dynamism of the psycho-spiritual energy manifesting itself at a specific instant in time. Another of his trademark innovations is that of Trancework, where he paints countless repetitions of a simple, powerful phrase as he falls deeper and deeper into a trance.
Invited to be a visiting researcher at Princeton University for the 2006-2007 academic year, Kakinuma now resides in Princeton, New Jersey. His most recent work, The Warrior Ideal was selected as the title artwork for the 2007 season of Japan's most popular long-running television show, The Taiga Drama Series.
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Koji Kakinuma Installation art "How many sheep?"
shooting date: 05/2007