“Sentō” means public baths in Japanese. Alessandro Bioletti, Italian Illustrator who has been living in Tokyo since 2015, chose this typique Japanese theme for his exhibition, currently being held at Makii Masaru Fine Arts until Oct 21st. The gallery is in the district where many public bathes are located. Though it is not primarily a reason of choosing this gallery, he sees the linkage between the theme and right location to be exhibited.
When I heard of the title of his exhibition, I immediately thought of “Thermae romae”, a Japanese manga series by Mari Yamasaki, in which the bathhouses culture in Roman era appeared in comparison with Japanese Sentō in modern day, but it was too brash to connect his Italian origin and the theme. Alessandro said there are several reasons that he came to be interested in “Sentō” and choose as the theme of his exhibition. “Sentō” was his first encounter about Japanese culture – getting into such a hot water and be in the same bath with many other naked men!! Before settled in Tokyo, he started visiting Japan 13 years ago. Being fascinated by public baths, he started exploring public baths in a different town every time he visited Japan.
Alessandro also pointed out the difference in the way having human relations and interactions between Italy and Japan. In Italy, people are more expressive, while Japanese is in general shyer, not easy to express oneself, therefore, getting know each other needs a bit of patience. With such a contrast, he has got more conscious in the aspect of people’s connections and it is reflected in his work in “Sentō” exhibition.
What amazing is his vivid and concise portray of people in bath room and dressing room. I can picture it clearly and feel like I am in the scene. Alessandro‘s sharp, observant eye is used for the chose of colors used in the work. He said that it is fully influenced by the old color faded signboards from 70s and 80s that he discovers in the daily life.
His work reminds me Ukiyoe. In Edo era, the scene in public baths is a popular theme. Alessandro said that the composition and the way to describe the detail in Ukiyoe has fixed in his mind.
Alessandro is preparing for the next exhibition in June 2019 with a theme of “City boy”. He said that it will be held in a gallery in Harajuku by reflecting the theme.
His source of inspiration is a daily life. Once his appetite is caught, he search for it as he wants to know more. He sometime wonders what if he lived in Africa how his work would be differed. He is certainly not only one who wants to see how his work could be in Africa.
Born in Turin on 21st August 1986, Alessandro is a professional freelance Illustrator.
As a child, Alessandro loved to look through his grandfathers photo books of Japan and started taking a strong interest in the country and it’s culture. At 16 Alessandro began taking lessons in the Japanese language, and at 18 made his first voyage to the country. Alesandro has continued to travel and document his adventures through his drawings. Over the years these two passions have become intertwined and in December 2014 published his first children’s book “Mitsukete Alekun! Sekai No Tabi” (Find Mr.Ale Around The World) with the highly reputable Japanese publisher, Shogakukan.
In 2015 Alessandro left Italy and migrated to Tokyo, Japan where he now works as an illustrator for various advertising campaigns, editorials, picture books and a multitude of interesting projects for businesses worldwide.