Yuji Ichikawa (市川裕司): his solo exhibition “blue moment”

Saitama Gallery

The apple…………it appeared in the story of Adam and Eve in Old testament as a forbidden fruit seducing human beings to indulge. Snow white faints after eating a poisonous apple. Wilhelm Tell shot an apple on his son’s head. Newton found law of universal gravitation while looking at an apple falling from a tree. Now the apple is in most people’s hands as a mark of smart phone.  There is no other fruits than the apple that is universal and often appears in anecdotes in all ages.

Forbidden fruit.jpg

The Fall of Man by Rubens

Yuji Ichikawa (Ichikawa) is an artist who is fascinated by the apple and often uses it as a theme in his artwork. I had a chance to visit his recent solo exhibition, “blue moment” at Saitama Gallery (埼玉画廊), which is unfortunately ended on September 24, but I would like to introduce some of his works.

“I see the apple, which is familiar object for everyone, could be a good tool to link to people’s memories through and trigger connecting people across time and place. ”  – Yuji Ichikawa*

”私は、この誰もが知るリンゴを通じて記憶にリンクすることが、人が時間や場所を越えて繋がりを持つためのツールであると考えています。そして外界と繋がる意識によって、自己の再認識を果たすことが私の願いです。” ー市川裕司

Saitama Garo image.jpg

He originally studied Japanese painting at Tama Art University, but his creation has moved to the field of contemporary art. Ichikwa himself, however, is not conscious about categorizing his filed. Ichikawa learnt from International Symposium on Japanese painting that the genre ‘Japanese painting’ was only created at Meiji era for convenience’s sake, when Japan opens the country and start exporting Japanese art and craftsmanship such as Ukiyoe, therefore, there is no clear definition in Japanese painting in terms of materials and tools and it lost its substance. The view opened up Ichikawa‘s approach to his work. He started thinking he could explore his art expression by using any kind of materials, that resulted his recent work using a transparent glass, plastic material and aluminum instead of Japanese paper that is less and less available。

In the blue 18-3 532x729 (P20)

Blue moment 18 249x340(F4)

As the tile of this exhibition, the most exhibited work is colored in blue. The blue is originated from his memory in his childhood. He was a light sleeper and often woke up in early morning.  He, at such time, stared at the blue and silent world outside his window. The blue color before the dawn that he saw during his stay in Germany got his additional inspiration toward blue color.  Ichikawa sees a landscape of his heart and an opening of new world in blue and it is reflected to the title of this exhibition, “blue moment”.


The size of the work at this solo exhibition was relatively small for Ichikawa‘s creations. He typically create up to the ceiling, large scale installation like seen in the SPIRAL exhibition in 2014. It is amazing to hear that he normally works in his 8 tatami mats size atelier (approx. 12.4 square meters) based on 1/10 scale rough sketch.


Ichikawa stayed from 2012 to 2013 in Dusseldorf in Germany as a Goto Memorial Foundation trainee. The experience during the period gets influenced his creative urge.  Ichikawa said that the life in Germany inspired him to look into origin of life.

For his future work, he is interested in the concept of “borderless”. Envisioning the coming Tokyo Olympics in 2020, he is conscious about the relation between Japan and the world.  Probing into what universal is, he is wondering the border such as a concept of nationality might disappear.

Ichikawa‘s work will be displayed at the entrance of new hotel opening in front of Yurakucho-station in Ginza area in December. I can’t wait to see it!

For Yuji Ichikawa‘s biography and works, please visit his website.

Yuji Ichikawa

Yuji Ichikawa with his work “目覚め木”(The waking tree**)

*the quote is translated by the author and not the official translation.
**the title of the work is translated by the author and not the official one.