Rising Star

A new illustrator pleases paper-lovers.

poster for Noritake

Noritake "Intentions"

at Rocket
in the Omotesando, Aoyama area
This event has ended - (2009-08-28 - 2009-09-08)

In Reviews by Sophie Knight 2009-09-03

I love stationery. I love its blankness, its purity, the whispering promise of what might be. It coaxes me near, tempts my ink. But its perfection only invites disappointment and failure; one misjudged stab of the pen and the game’s over. The sheet is soiled.

So for an eternally dissatisfied paper fetishist such as me, Noritake’s work is awe-inspiring. His stark, clean lines capture anatomy, plants, and inanimate objects with an ease that viewers can only wistfully admire and envy. Their casual presentation- taped simply to the walls- belies their elegant precision. The most arresting piece is a large-scale vortex of hundreds of spidery black lines, depicting a bird’s eye view of a neatly combed bowl-cut. Bereft of human features or flesh, it treads the line between abstract and familiar.

Another smaller piece depicts pencils bent at ninety degree angles. Noritake commented that his inspiration came from staring at stationery and imagining the most unlikely shapes it might form. Other works, including the curiously twisted body of a girl that requires close scrutiny to make sense of its warped anatomy – also mix figurative and abstract sensibilities, injected with a little manga stylisation on the side.

The lines are clean, precise, unswerving, with not a single one superfluous. Noritake says that he first takes photographs of his subjects and later draws them, which explains how he so successfully dissolves complex three dimensions into two. While the other large pieces – including a walrus, and a landscape of houses dotting a San Francisco valley – are powerful in their simplicity, it is the neat grid of small-scale drawings that are more subtly impressive, and demand more attention. Like a sudoku square, they are balanced in both their entirety and in their smaller groupings, rows or columns. A girl reads a book; a boy swallows what looks like a headphone; a rope coils around itself, the kanji for ‘time’ dissolves into dots, a man stares into the distance. Meticulously drawn, they each hum with a quiet, haiku-like simplicity. For someone with a tendency to overwork both their writing and drawing, the confidence Noritake exercises in letting the negative space speak for itself is inspiring.

Despite being nothing groundbreaking, it is easy to understand why Noritake’s star is rising in the art world. He produced several zines – some for the recent Zine’s Mate fair – and it is clear that his work is saleable. While the pieces suit their modest unframed arrangement in Rocket’s high-ceilinged space, one can easily imagine them in grander settings. Go and see them for yourself before they make it there.

Sophie Knight

Sophie Knight. Born in what she likes to refer to as the ‘Saitama of London’, Sophie's fetish for foreign languages and hatred of puddles meant she always had itchy feet. After enduring a homestay in Fukuoka and bussing her way through South America, she studied Social Anthropology in London, which convinced her of the essential essence of mankind... and that she had to get away from England. She came back to Japan after a brief stint in Barcelona to find some of the electric nuttiness and zarusoba she had been craving. She now spends her days deciphering Japanese newspapers, translating, writing a zine, speeding around Tokyo on her racing bike to discover tucked-away galleries, making bentos, injuring herself pole-dancing and getting used to the fact that nothing interesting is ever at ground-level in this city. » See other writings


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