Sometimes an artist’s works affect you on such a visceral level,
bypassing the analytical function of your brain so utterly as the images
plunge deep into some basic, primal place in your subconscious, into
your ever-lurking id, into your dream-being, that it’s hard to put
in words why the artist’s works are just so good, so much a cut above
others in the genre. This is my problem in trying to express my enthusiasm
for the works of shichigoro756 – works such as “usagi-kikai”, “kami-kaze-3”, “usagi’s
day” and “hug”. Perhaps it’s best to start by citing some obvious influences
on his works.
Giger is most evident, as is Dali, as is jasinski, but
also Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam, who are brilliant filmmakers but
who are also artists first and foremost. It’s more and more evident
that almost all of today’s visual arts are at least as influenced by
moviemakers as by traditional artists. But there’s more to shichigoro756’s
art than just pleasurable echoes of these past masters. There’s a unique
viscerally affecting something – something new – that really speaks
to the observer.
I think that shichigoro756’s art is so affecting because it so perfectly
evokes the very strange times we are living in. The fear of the entire
world ending in a nuclear holocaust or alien invasion has long been
a trope well explored in popular art, books, and films. But this scenario
seems to have shifted fundamentally. Now there seems to be a pervasive
feeling that rather than awaiting an end-of-everything Big Bang, we
are instead living through, right now, a slow-motion ongoing environmental,
economic and spiritual decline. The feeling is that the “post-apocalyptic” is
happening right now. And yet still we must find a way to live and
love and hope – despite our ever devolving present existence.
works of Shichigoro756 are dark and surreal and full of mutated beings – and
yet they are strangely beautiful and life-affirming, full of joy and
playfulness and most of all hope. His art is full of human tenderness
and promotes an embrace of life no matter how weird or damaged or
fearfully attenuated. His art seems to me to truly speak to our times,
and I think this is why it produces such a powerful resonance within
my own inner psyche.
Shichigoro756 was kind enough to answer some questions I had for him about his art and let me share the Q and A with all interested deviants:
How much of your art is of purely aesthetic purpose (simply to be enjoyed), and how much is it about a message to the viewer?
My works aren’t really created with the purpose of “fine art” in mind. To me, there is no sharp dividing line that separates fine art, illustration, and graffiti. I enjoy them all equally. Because of that, when I draw, I don’t really think about the artistic value. I just make my works with the same feeling one might have while creating illustrations or graffiti.
Likewise, I don’t concentrate on some deep message. I focus on the enjoyment of the visual aspects while I create.
Although I have a rough idea of the setting and scene before I begin to draw, they change while I am drawing -- it is almost like the artwork takes on a life of its own and has its own will. The settings sometimes change so much that by the time I’m done they are completely different from my initial thoughts.
I want the people who see my creations to each have their own independent views and feelings about them.
Is there an element of your art, as I have speculated, that addresses coping with a damaged and mutated Earth and a damaged and mutated humanity?
This is also completely up to viewer. I don’t actually have a detailed setting or story underlying my work.
Is this a damaged Earth, or is it another planet in the future? Or perhaps a mutated Earth in parallel universe? Although this element might not be settled, there is no denying that many of my works address our coping with our humanity.
There are many robots and strange living creatures fused with inorganic substances in my work, but I never imbue these creatures with negative feelings like “unhappiness, sadness, fear, or anger.”
Although they have a strange look about them, they evoke subtle feelings of “quietness, peace, tenderness, and joy.”
...they evoke subtle feelings of “quietness, peace, tenderness, and joy."
I see the influences of Giger, Dali, jasinski, even Frazetta in your works. Can you speak of these visual artists’ influence on you?
Giger is probably the biggest influence on my work. I have nothing but the highest respect for his beautiful dark world and his amazing techniques that are executed so perfectly.
Although I have absolutely no conscious intention to produce works that have similarities to his, he is so great that the visual images from his works (such as the details in his machines) might unconsciously come out on my works.
Many viewers of my work say it looks like Giger’s. I am at once very honored and humbled by these remarks.
I have tremendous respect for many techniques and worldviews of many other artists as well, but I avoid being conscious of them during my own creative process.
But it is certainly possible that I am unconsciously influenced by my respect for these artists and that it comes out in my works naturally.
What other visual artists have influenced you?
There are so many artists who have influenced me that I cannot recite all their names. One of my favorite artists is certainly the writer of “AKIRA”, Katsuhiro Otomo.
I feel that the pipes, machines, and robots he draws are all amazingly cool and have a uniqueness that somehow contains a bit of humanity.
The first big influence on my childhood was the robot “Vega” that had tenderness and affection, contrary to his strange appearance, in the animated movie “HARMAGEDON”. Mr. Otomo served as a character designer for that one.
Other comic writers and illustrators such as Moebius (Hean Giraud), Katsuya Terada, and Tatsuyuki Tanaka have also influenced me.
I see the influences of Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam in your works. Can you speak to how artists and moviemakers have influenced you?
“9” is my favorite recent Tim Burton-produced movie. The movie’s director and writer is actually Shane Acker though.
In “EDWARD SCISSORHANDS”, with director/producer/story by Tim Burton, the strange appearance of kind-hearted Ed really shocked me. I love his dark but humane worldview which he manages to fuse with comicality and uniqueness.
I also have other favorites by Terry Gilliam such as ”Brazil,” ”The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” and ”Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” The worldview of his recent “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” is really great.
However, I am not sure if Burton and Gilliam have influenced my works because I really just watch their works for fun.
What other moviemakers have influenced you?
"Delicatessen," "The City of Lost Children" and ”Micmacs” by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, “Alice,” “Faust” and other short films by Jan Švankmajer, “GHOST IN THE SHELL” and ”INNOCENCE” by Mamoru Oshii, ”Tetsuo: The Iron Man” and ”Tetsuo: The Bullet Man” by Shinya Tsukamoto. And the movies and comics by Otomo Katsuhiro. These are all favorites of mine.
Films by other moviemakers, including Hayao Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon, have also influenced my works.
Is the exploration of “dark” or “noir” subject matter, and a playful treatment of it, something you feel is in some way “important” as an expression of our times ? Or is it simply what you have been drawn to and something you are very good at?
I think the main reason that I am so attracted to dark visual worlds is that “just darkness” is not attractive to me.
“Tenderness” and “daily peace” from gentle creatures that live in “dark” or “strange” worlds are very attractive and beautiful to me.
Little glimmers of light in the dark world are very important to me. It might look like I am only drawing dark worlds, but the substance of my work is actually the light in the world.
My art skills and mentality are immature, but I intend to mature them by continuing to create many more works.
What do you say to critics who say there is too much “noir” and “genre” art in the public mainstream today ? and that more “positive” art should be created?
I believe that “positive” expression differs from person to person.
I have never intended to draw just dark pictures. It’s the “positive” in the dark that attracts me the most.
On the other hand, I’m certainly not just drawing “positive” pictures either.
In my works, you’ll find that darkness and light are always coexisting (although it might look to some like I am more aligned with the dark side of things).
In my opinion, even if there is too much “noir” and “genre” art, there is no need to force the creation of “positive” art.
If we are truly living in an era where it is as the critics say and there is too much “noir” and “genre” art, then I believe that more “positive” art will be born naturally.
In what ways do you feel your art is “positive” and life-affirming? And in what ways do you feel it is “negative” (but for a positive purpose)? Or is it all simply more about being well-executed and purely fun?
All the creatures in my work are “positive” and “life-affirming” inside. However, I sometimes don’t place an overt emphasis on that in my works because it’s supposed to be part of their inner aspect. Sometimes I add a “heart” or “plants” to express it more overtly, but even the works without them are also positive.
I draw them like they don’t have any “negative” feelings, even if they have the most “negative” appearance.
And certainly some of my works are purely drawn for my own enjoyment.
"If my works are indeed having such an influence I am very happy to hear it, and at the same time I feel very grateful and thankful about it."
How do you feel when you are told that your art is having a very real and powerful impact on so many people and causing a discussion within several genre communities of artists and art enthusiasts?
If my works are indeed having such an influence I am very happy to hear it, and at the same time I feel very grateful and thankful about it.
It definitely encourages me to keep creating and developing my art works.
What is your future? Would you like to do graphic novels or get into animated films?
I want to keep drawing forever. I want to do a series of pictures with a story and flash or 3DCG animation types of projects at some point, too.
What is your favorite traditional art work of all time? And what is your favorite strange or imaginative art work by a modern artist?
One of my works, “wa” is inspired by a woman in a Kimono in Ukiyoe (Japanese woodblock print) and the traditional Japanese art of Sharaku is also a favorite. I might also say that my “red-line+” composed of 3 pieces was influenced by traditional folded screen landscapes.
Please excuse me if this is slightly off subject, but... I would like to mention that I also worked on collaborations with Japanese traditional craftspeople doing “lacquer ware” for a magazine publisher.
I love Giger, Dali and also Escher’s work. And ”Curl-Up (Pedalternorotandomovens centroculatus articulosus)” is my favorite.
Among modern artists I like Pierre Matter, Brian Despain, Xia Xiaowan, Ashley Wood, and others.
What’s the best compliment you want to hear from an admirer?
I like this!!
What’s the most annoying and unhelpful criticism you’ve ever heard from a detractor?
“It looks like a penis.”
I don’t draw sexual scenes, so I felt a deep sense of regret hearing that someone could view my works this way. But … I suppose that even these comments are not without value and I can learn from them and hone my skills to make better works in the future.
When you create art, there will always be both praise and criticism. I strive to improve by creating more and more works that receive as many “I like this!!” comments as possible.
During the researching and writing of this article, I tweeted one of Shichigoro756’s deviations. One of the immediate responses that came back was from DeevElliott. I asked Dave to tell me a little bit more about why he liked the artwork:
“I love Shichigoro-Shingo's artwork. Its a perfect stylistic mash-up that you can only get when you expose yourself to unfiltered artistic influences from every country and time period. Seeing work that is seemingly inspired by Yoshitaka Amano to Tim Burton to Hayo Miyazaki to H. R. Giger to Maurice Sendack and holding it all together is breathtaking. Then you see he has only been a Deviant for 1 year… OMG he's going to explode and I'll be watching his deviations to see that explosion unfurl. DeviantART in the 21st century is a good place to be."
I’d really like to keep a dialogue going about shichigoro756’s art as well as my general view of what it is that’s animating and agitating our psyches presently. I’d like to kick it off by asking artists and interested others here, upon the digital planes of dA, a few relevant questions about their thoughts and feelings:
Has the “new noir” style in art and movies become so pervasive as to be draining of it any shock or impact? Or is it simply a case of exemplary works always standing on their own individually regardless of the saturation level of the genre?
Does the surreal nature of this work have more resonance because of the inherent immediacy of the message or do you think the sheer beauty of the sci-fi and fantasy elements eclipse any message?
Is the artistic attempt to “embrace” our darkening future as something still worth loving and finding beautiful a healthy, positive response to our times?
Is dark yet playful art like that of shichigoro756 simply something to be enjoyed for its aesthetic oddness and creative inventiveness, or do you feel, as I do, that’s there’s something more important being stated in his art.
Story narratives lurking just beneath the surface often emerge for the viewer from particularly compelling artworks. Do these artworks speak to you in this way?
As far as the Dali-like surrealism is concerned, where does it place among the things that you responded to the most? Is that the aspect that pulls it all together?
The intersection of animal, humans and technology is present throughout. What might be the underlying message as it relates to our interaction with nature and technology?
In researching and writing this article I encountered hundreds of amazing deviants, artworks, and Groups dedicated to surreal art in multiple categories. Many of them, relating directly to shichigoro756 work and the themes within this article, were truly inspiring. Here are a few of the deviants and groups that had me lost in their galleries for hours on end.
- draw-hito-kikai by shichigoro756
- kuma-kinocom by shichigoro756
- sakana-kikai by shichigoro756
- usagi-kikai by shichigoro756
- panda-kikai by shichigoro756
- kami-kaze-3 by shichigoro756
- kami-kaze-2 by shichigoro756
- kami-kaze by shichigoro756
- kazenokikai by shichigoro756
- draw -balloon of peace by shichigoro756
- ie-kaiju by shichigoro756
- red line+ by shichigoro756
- kumo-kaiju by shichigoro756
- usagi's day by shichigoro756
- 2011 USAGIDOSI by shichigoro756
- 9 by shichigoro756
- brothers heart by shichigoro756
- Art City_shichigoro756 by TheRyanFord