"A magazine that is packed to the brim with human interests and desires bears a strong resemblance to who I am as a person. My life is not a straight shot, with one central theme running through it like a book. It would be more properly called a ‘magazine editor's life', spent looking about at my surroundings constantly, wandering from place to place, engaging in a wide variety of work along the way." (Keiichi Tanaami)
The year was 1936: the February 26 Incident took place in Japan as German troops entered the Rhineland, sparking the flames of the Second World War, and it was in this year that Keiichi Tanaami was born the eldest son of a textile wholesaler in the Kyōbashi neighborhood of Tokyo.
In 1941, the Pacific War erupted after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, and Tanaami's birthplace was put in peril. The bombing of Tokyo began with a B29 on April 18, 1942, and Tanaami fled from Kyōbashi with his family, relocating to his grandfather's house in the Gonnosuke-zaka neighborhood of the Meguro ward. From the house bomb shelter, Tanaami witnessed the over one hundred firebombing attacks on Tokyo that continued until the war ended on August 15, 1945. Images seared into the back of his mind at this time would become major motifs in his art: roaring American bombers, Japanese searchlights scanning the skies, firebombs and flares dropped from planes, the city a sea of fire, fleeing masses, and the flashes of the bombs reflecting off of his grandfather's deformed goldfish swimming in its tank. Tanaami's experience of the war, and in particular this fish, are stored in his memory with the mystery of an illusion.
"It is a grotesque form of beauty. The fish tank appearing there amidst the bright light of the flares, strong as the midday sun. In the tank, a deformed goldfish, its scales catching the light, twinkling and luminescent, flutters and sways as it swims. I was scared, but I also felt this excitement running through my whole body when I saw that fish tank. To this day I believe that experience was more intense than any of my hallucinations."
As the war conditions deteriorated, Tanaami and his mother evacuated to Muikamachi, Niigata, where they stayed until the end of the war. When they returned to Meguro, they found the town they knew so well had all but vanished.
"There is no doubt that fear and apprehension along with anger and resignation surged through my dreams, in which the enigmatic monster of war chased down my boyhood, spent eating and playing to my heart's content. As I recall, one night during an air raid, I watched a fleeing mob of people from atop a hill. But, I wonder about this. I wonder if it actually happened. Dreams and reality are all jumbled up in my memories, stored in my mind in that ambiguous state."
Not long afterwards, at the age of nine, the young Tanaami came across kamishibai, picture-card shows, in the scorched streets of Tokyo. Specifically, Ogon Bat and Syonen Ojya.
"Yet, the image I have stored in my memory of kamishibai is that of a thick matière similar to that of classic European paintings by the likes of Emilio Greco or Veláquez, painted in meticulous detail. That distinct matière remains permanently linked in my memory with the haunting sight of the baby girl born from the white snake's egg with the body of a snake and the face and hands of a human; the sprite Bella, flicking her red tongue as she slithers her way down the cliff; each distinctive character from The Golden Bat, an action story that was always set against a backdrop of the setting sun."
"The kamishibai show Boy King was performed as a gigantic sun set on the horizon. There would be about fifty kids in the audience. I would wait a very long time so that I could sit in the front row. Though the city had burned to the ground, I was so engrossed in the kamishibai that the whole world seemed to exist in them. Sōji Yamakawa was my starting point, and if it weren't for my coming across the kamishibai and the book version of Boy King, I probably wouldn't have entered this world."
His background of the war and his encounter with kamishibai are both deeply connected to his birth as Tanaami the artist. Another factor that greatly influenced Tanaami was film. In Meguro, where Tanaami grew up, there was a "horribly pathetic movie theater that was basically a shack made out of plywood" called the Meguro Palace where Tanaami spent almost every day watching American B movies.
"Well, when you are watching over 500 movies a year, the line between fiction and reality gets blurred, and you end up in a state of confusion where truth and falsehood are all mixed up, as though you are glimpsing out at reality from a loophole in the dream world. I even seriously considered whether I could just live in that cozy darkness."
What grabbed Tanaami's attention were many of the popular entertainment flicks of the time: monster movies such as Freaks by Tod Browning and Creature from the Black Lagoon by Jack Arnold; films that starred seductive, glamorous actresses such as Jane Russell in The Outlaw, Marilyn Monroe in Niagara, and Jayne Mansfield in The Girl Can't Help It; and the list goes on.
Tanaami reminisces about his "madman-like games played behind closed doors" in connection with his passion for movies. Once, the young Tanaami caught a black stray dog with a lame leg, smeared white paint over its entire body, then let it loose on a dark field. "All the while I was thinking that I shouldn't be doing this, and yet I was terribly excited by this simple and cruel action of watching the thing that I had painted moving." In another instance, Tanaami set up a handmade snare and captured a sparrow. He came up with a savage idea using his uncle's film projector. "I switched off all of the light bulbs, then groped about to take the cover off of the light source. I then took out the sparrow, which I had put into a box ahead of time, and placed it in the space next to the light bulb, and quietly put the cover back on. There was no sign of motion from the sparrow, but perhaps that was because of the pitch darkness. With my heat pounding in my chest, I switched the film projector on. The stark black silhouette of the sparrow, its black outline trembling, was projected onto the bright white screen. Its tiny tremors continued for some time, until finally, no longer able to endure the heat of the bulb, the sparrow began to flap its wings. It seemed about to break out into a momentous rampage, its movements crisply mirrored on the white screen. I couldn't move, I was so stunned by that great aggression, and I just sat there staring at the screen." Tanaami's "abnormal obsession with moving things" carried on into the animations and experimental films he would later produce.
Already excelling beyond his age in painting by the time he was a high school student, Tanaami naturally aspired to enroll in an art university. However, he was met with vehement opposition from his mother as well as the rest of his relatives, whose only concept of artists at the time was that they were "dirty, womanizing, drunken derelicts living in poverty". In the end he was permitted to attend the college of design at Musashino Art University under the condition that a concentration in design would at least lead him to land a real job. His talents became widely known during his college years, and during his second year, in 1958, he won a special selection award at the Japan Advertising Art Exhibition, held by the authoritative design organization, Japan Advertising Artists Club. After winning the award, he started taking on editorial design jobs for magazines despite still being enrolled full time in school. His first job commissioned was for art direction of the new magazine Mademoiselle. "I knew virtually nothing about design. Or what kind of work it entailed. But I had a feeling that if I passed this chance by, it would never come again." Upon showing his mother the large sum of money he received as compensation for his work, she grew angry, asking him, "What sort of criminal activity have you gotten yourself into?" After graduating, he took a job at the Advertising Branch of Hakuhodo, but quit after just two years due to receiving far too many independent job offers. After meeting his mentor, Kiyoshi Awazu, he delved into his fascination with design. "When I graduated, I was recommended for membership in the Japan Advertising Artists Club, and I tasted an overwhelming euphoria like I had never felt before. Of course after that even more design work came in, and the allure of design, of dodging through various systems and constraints, had me in its grasp and would not let go."
It was also at this time that Tanaami had the important encounter with fellow artist Ushio Shinohara, who would become his lifelong friend. From the front line, Tanaami observed the Neo Dadaism Organizers' movement, started up in 1960 by artists Ushio Shinohara, Genhei Akasegawa, and Shūsaku Arakawa. "Masanobu Yoshimura had a studio in the Hyakunincho neighborhood of Shinjuku; it was the first private residence designed by Arata Isozaki. Young artists would gather there nearly every day at around sunset, and would hold parties that raved through the night. They were a feast of sounds that existed in that alternate dimension that really represented the '60s, like a feverish ritual with brains and bodies clashing with great noise." Steadily building his career in commercial arts on the one side, Tanaami was also greatly inspired by the presence of these friends. "There was an allure to the air of excitement they exuded and the life they lived, these artists who had adopted antiart, the polar opposite of [commercial arts]. It occurred to me that this mode of expression that stripped away every sort of institution and constraint, that this, too, was indispensable to me."
In 1966, Tanaami published Portrait of Keiichi Tanaami, a pop art book which blended Japanese manga with American hero comics, as a "piece of art that is a book, that does not adhere to exhibition on a gallery wall". In the book he wrote the following statement: "I want us to break away from the fixed notion that printed material = facsimile, and to comprehend it rather as the existence of an infinite number of original works. The notions of the quality or the rarity value of a painting are a myth from an era dominated by the idea that only the single piece containing the trace of the artist and every thought within, constituted as art, the pure form of painting." In 1967, Tanaami changed his mind with conviction upon seeing some of Andy Warhol's works in person during his first trip to New York.
"At the time, Warhol was in the process of transitioning from commercial illustrator to artist, and I both observed and experienced firsthand his tactics, his method of incision into the art world. What I felt then was that the strategies he employed were identical to the strategies employed by advertising agencies. He used contemporary icons as motifs in his artwork, and put the various mediums of films, newspapers, and rock bands together in his activities; Warhol's existence equaled selling artwork to the art market. This was shocking to me, and at the same time I embraced him as the perfect case model for myself. Like Warhol, I decided then not to limit myself to any one medium, to just design or fine art, but to instead do what I wanted using a variety of methods."
Inspired, Tanaami went on to tirelessly create a great number of experimental pieces. In 1968, he designed album jackets for the Japanese releases of albums such as legendary rock band Jefferson Airplane's After Bathing at Baxter's and the Monkees' Pisces, Acquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. He contributed work to the No More War poster special feature in the American magazine Avant Garde that same year. Then, in 1969, under the title of Image Director, he published the legendary book, Illustrated Book of Imaginary Tomorrow, a compilation of the underground art scene in Tokyo in the 1960s. The images included in the book had no boundaries: Marilyn Monroe, underground New York newspapers, Pinky & Killers, GeGeGe no Kitaro, American comic book heroes, Self-Defense Force personnel, Gewalt students, Hitler and the Nazis, groups of naked men and women staging happenings, cursed dolls, wartime Asahi newspaper clippings, the Apollo 11 moon landing, and so on. It was an experimental work, using every conceivable technique of graphic design to edit together the virtual images emitted by the mass media with the myriad images wriggling about inside Tanaami's brain. In an interview that appears in the book, Tanaami says with enthusiasm: "At this point in time, I entertain absolutely no notion that design could transform the world. Politics are a force; design is not. I'm talking about demonstrations and placards. Making a placard isn't going to stop the war. This is how I know that designers think of themselves as social elites. I comprehend mass society as a measure of oneself. To that end, we must first tear apart the way of thinking known as design. I think it's complete nonsense that we are still stuck on the impotence of modern design."
Tanaami was tackling an enormous workload during this period, and at the same time was vigorously at work to realize his long-held dream of making animation. Tanaami created his first animated piece in 1965.
"In the 1960s, events that traversed and intersected many diverse genres took place regularly at the Sōgetsu Art Center in Akasaka. Happenings staged by Yoko Ono, videos by Nam June Paik, and experimental American films hit the stage one after the next. The Sōgetsu Art Center was truly the ‘shrine' of the avant-garde. For the young artists searching for ‘new forms of expression' at the time, each one of those activities was inspiring. It was around that time that I heard the news that the First Animation Festival, developed by the Animation Group of Three (Yōji Kuri, Ryōhei Yanagihara, Hiroshi Manabe), whose works I had seen at Sōgetsu, was to take place in 1964. I wanted so badly to make animation, I begged Yōji Kuri's Experimental Animation Studio to help me create ‘Marionettes in Masks'. It was the first studio I saw in person; at the animation stand, we looked over the frame tables I had spent all night drawing up and then started shooting. Every day was an uphill battle, as I had no comprehension of any filmmaking terminology or technique, not even the 24 frame per second timing or the movement of the pictures to go along with that; overlapping; shooting frames; fading in and out; and so on. Up until that point, my everyday work had almost exclusively dealt with still images, and still unable to fully grasp that sense of time, filming came to an abrupt end. This was back when the word animation itself was not yet commonplace."
It was Tanaami's adoration for Osamu Tezuka, of whom he had been a "frantic [fan] since childhood", that drove his desire to create animation. Astro Boy was first aired on TV in 1963. Tanaami reminisces about that time, saying that "it was a relief and a joy to see Astro Boy, who moved so freely on the printed page, transposed onto the black and white television and animated just the way I had imagined." Tanaami continued to make animations, with Good-by Marilyn (1971), an erotic pop animation seemingly symbolizing his youth when his soul was taken by the Hollywood actress; Good-By Elvis and USA (1971), an ironic critique of the powerful nation of America, using Presley as a symbolic icon; Study of the Virgin in School Uniform Stripped Bare by her Bachelors (1972), a Dadaistic film tribute to Marcel Duchamp's similarly titled piece; Crayon Angel (1975), in which he utilized photographs and animation to express his personal experience of the war on a novel viewing surface; and Sweet Friday (1975), a self-portrait piece in which he faithfully depicted several hours of his regular Friday morning behavior, inserted with flashes of miscellaneous images and delusions from his visions. Aside from his artwork, in 1974 Tanaami was put in charge of the art direction for a documentary piece by NHK that followed Andy Warhol on his first trip to Japan for his exhibition at the Daimaru Department Store in Tokyo, and he met Warhol there for the first time. He was also engaged in making many experimental films, including JAM POT (1971), SHE (1971), UFO (1973), 4・EYES (1975), WHY (1975), and Artificial Paradise (1975), which were shown at Films by Keiichi Tanaami held at Shūji Terayama's Tenjo-Saijiki-kan (1972), at the International Film Festival Oberhausen in Germany (1975, 1976), at the New York Film Festival (1976), and at the Ottawa International Animation Festival (1976), receiving critical acclaim in Japan and abroad.
Tanaami cites Sergei Eisenstein, the authoritative film director of the Russian avant-garde known for his film Battleship Potemkin, as having considerable influence on the string of works he created during that period. "The original French term ‘montage theory' means ‘to assemble fragments together', but it was Eisenstein who theorized this as a form of visual grammar within film. To summarize, it refers to the joining together of different shots of films to create footage with a particular significance, but the problem lies in the way the shots are joined and put together. The director's personal imagination is clearly reflected therein, making up the heart of the ‘editorial' concept. What is interesting here is that Japanese culture played no small part in the theory of montage which was supposedly created against the backdrop of the Russian avant-garde, the new cultural movement in Russia at the time. The elements of ‘decomposition and reconstruction' and ‘interruption and sequence', lived unconsciously by the Japanese people, became exposed through the eye of the third party, Eisenstein. This point of view was then re-imported, and as I was deciphering montage theory, I also came to look for new methodologies in editing and design."
Afterwards, in 1975, Tanaami was hired as the first art director for the Japanese edition of Monthly Playboy, and went to America once again to visit the Playboy Magazine headquarters. The editor there took Tanaami to Andy Warhol's studio, The Factory. Following his experience of "explosive culture shock" in America in the 1970s, Tanaami created a great number of works that provoked all sorts of taboos, such as antisocial themes, critiques of the system, and the liberation of sexual expression. A series of silkscreen works that made heavy use of lewd images from porn magazines ORGY, LUV, and SCREW, which he had collected in downtown New York, were exhibited in 1971 at Celluloid Born in America (Gallery Décor) and in 1974 at Super Orange of Love Series (Nishimura Gallery); due to the vanguard nature of the sexually explicit depictions, the latter exhibition was shut down for police inspection.
In 1981, at the age of 45, perhaps due to exhaustion built up over the '70s, a decade he spent engaged in a vast amount of defiant and experimental work, Tanaami became severely ill and hovered at the edge of life and death.
"I had grown weary of my own lifestyle, drinking until morning and then spending the day working in a delirious state of consciousness. There was the fact that I lacked a strong conviction of this is it! with graphic design and artistic expression, and I had lost confidence and passion for my work. I spent my days in indolence and apathy, and then this immense punishment came down upon me from the heavens. I was hospitalized for four months with pleurisy, and my outlook on life was greatly shaken. Human life is not eternal. Thoughts about death, which I had not paid much attention to up until that point, and about how to live this relatively short life came and sat themselves squarely in the center of my thought circuitry."
Tanaami experienced hallucinations every night of his four month long hospitalization.
"As a side effect of the strong medications, every evening at around 7 o'clock I would suffer a high fever that would send me into a delirious state, and at that point I would always have the same dream. To this day I'm still not sure if that was a ‘dream' or a ‘hallucination'. At any rate, each night when the fever came over me I would see a scene identical to the Port Lligat seashore that so often appears in paintings by Salivador Dalí projected upon the white wall at my feet. I hadn't so much as opened a book of Dalí's works during my hospital stay, nor do I have any recollection of being particularly moved by anything like that during that period of my life. My dreams must have gotten jumbled up with the hallucinations from the medications."
It was this experience, however, that gave Tanaami the creative energy to make new art. "I found a connection between being conscious of death so close to myself and to being alive, and that became the powerful energy that supported my creativity," says Tanaami, who verily left behind a great number of works created around the theme of "life and death" from throughout the '80s and '90s. For instance, the Japanese pine trees that seem to move of their own device, which have often appeared in Tanaami's work since then are based on the hallucinatory images he witnessed during that period of illness. Similarly, miniature motifs of structural forms such as the boxing ring which often appeared along with animals such as cranes and elephants, helical genitalia, and naked women, were characteristic of The House in Acsention and Imaginary Prison, a consecutive series of painting and sculptural works that Tanaami was tackling at the time.
"I got the idea for the wooden piece from my memory of the sensation of the round and triangular wooden building blocks I played with as a child, building odd structures, knocking them down, and then building them up again. I will never forget that experience of childhood play, along with the nostalgic colors and shapes, and the warmth they left in my hand. Each of those bizarre configurations formed by chance is imprinted deep in my childhood memories. The whole of these childhood memories are separate from the truth, and none of the memories are accurate. I think these memories, changing daily as if at their own convenience, greatly sway who I am. There is an accepted belief that ‘memories lie', but false memory to me is just another truth. My main wooden piece, The House in Acsention, though incomparable to the complex process of operation, meticulous assembly, and coloring of the toy blocks, is to me an extension of that building block play."
Dream, memory, hallucination: these keywords are crucial to interpreting Tanaami's work. Take for instance the Kamakura era Buddhist monk, Myōe, whose story Tanaami draws from. It is said that Myōe recorded his dreams every day with an abnormal obsession from age 19 until his passing at age 60. Through his obsession, he became able to continue from the point he left off in dreams from a previous night. Tanaami became obsessed with "Myōe's dreams" and says that he was also eventually able to control his own dreams. He became prone to insomnia, however, and received doctor's orders to stop.
"Each of the drawings I had been working on in an enormous quantity over a very long time had input from somewhere amongst the memories in my brain. One time I bound together a thick pile of paper and transformed it into a monstrosity of a book. Another time, in the studio inside my head, I edited a film, incorporating one frame at a time. Then, those ‘memories that transcend imagination' were played back on a screen set up just for me in the darkness of my brain. I have once looked down from atop a low hill at those memories, covering the whole ground like a mandala. These are perhaps efforts to affirm the oneness of my memories, through an unconscious editing process that extends far and beyond the powers of my imagination. In the same way that ‘memories' are ‘edited', ‘drawings that illustrate memories' also bear within them complex, multi-tiered structures, and continue to undergo editing."
Following several large-scale solo exhibitions that took place in Japan at the Ikeda Museum of 20th Century Art in 1992 and at the Kawasaki City Museum in 1994, Keiichi Tanaami's works came to win strong support from the younger generations during the 2000s. This was prompted by the exhibition Keiichi Tanaami: Graphic Works in the '60s held at Gallery 360° in the Aoyama neighborhood of Tokyo in the year 2000. Cultural leaders of the new generation born after the 1960s such as Yamataka Eye, frontman of the world famous noise rock band Boredoms, and film director Naohiro Ukawa gave high praise to the exhibition, and Tanaami's work started to appear in the youth culture scene around the world. He has collaborated with various fashion designers, for example, including Mary Quant in 2003, Paul Smith and Moncler in 2007, Manish Arora in 2008, and Lucien Pellat-Finet in 2011, and is in the works on a collaboration with Stüssy to be released in 2013. He also worked on the album covers for British rock group Super Furry Animals' Hey Venus! (2007) and Dark Days/Light Years (2009, collaboration with Pete Fowler).
Since 2006, the introduction of Tanaami's works into the worldwide fine art scene has intensified, a reflection of the expanding contemporary art scene. Each year brings further international acclaim as he exhibits works at galleries and museums around the world, including solo exhibitions DAYTRIPPER at Art & Public - Cabinet PH (2008), Drawings and Collages 1967-1975 at Galerie Gebr. Lehmann in Berlin (2011), and No More War at Schinkel Pavillon in Berlin (2013), and his works have recently been housed at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum of Contemporary Art in Berlin. New works in film have been screened at film festivals and museums around the world, including the Stuttgart Festival of Animation Film in Germany (2009), 5 screenings of films by Keiichi Tanaami at Mudam Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2011), the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France (2012), the Los Angeles Animation Festival (2012), and the Japanese Underground Cinema Program 6: Radical Experiments in Japanese Animation film screening at MoMA in New York (2013). Though belated, this is the result of the world art scene's discovery of Tanaami's one of a kind creative work. The following review of an exhibition held at Gebr. Lehmann in Berlin in 2007 gives a straightforward explanation as to how the world found Tanaami.
"His paintings and sculptures mix together elements of pop art with impressions engraved from childhood. These include memories of hallucinatory experiences and high fevers, and go back as far as World War II. At the same time, these works keep watch over the religious traditions of Asia, and the link between Japanese (notably, art) history and culture. Keiichi Tanaami's art is not just a peculiar combination of ‘Eastern' and ‘Western' elements, but is also an indication that those elements are ‘mixed up' within the artist himself. The exhibition title, Spiral, emphasizes the extremely important role played by the two elements, and is derived from the Buddhist concept of reincarnation." (Lisa Werner-Art, Dresdner Neueste Nachirochten, March 12, 2009)
Tanaami's creative work continues to expand inexhaustibly to this day with paintings, sculptures, and animations. In DAYDREAM, an exhibition of new work at NANZUKA (2007), he presented a piece that acutely captured the figures of young girls wearing eccentric costumes, their miniskirts fluttering as they wander through Shibuya. "I exhibited close to fifty goldfish girls in sailor-style school uniforms at the solo exhibition held at the end of 2007. The drawings in the bright red room made to look like a fish tank are true to the image I had, an exact overlap with the deformed goldfish. The phenomena of the girls' transformation into goldfish deepens with each repeated reshaping, and ends in a perhaps unexpected way. The new quirk that emerges from projecting coquettish images of goldfish onto the bodies of the girls is an ever evolving aspect of one of my major motifs."
Kochuten (NANZUKA, 2009) featured a series of works that Tanaami had been working on for a long time, depicting a paradise that lay inside a calabash, as inspired by Chinese legends. "My latest paintings feature the calabash, which has absolutely nothing to do with Eros. This is because I am depicting in painting the ‘Kochuten' world, as inspired by ancient Chinese legends. During the Han Dynasty there lived an old medicine merchant who was actually an immortal mountain hermit, and when night fell he would jump into his calabash jug. Inside, there lay a dazzling, magnificent palace with countless pavilions stacked up to the sky. Within that tiny container, there opened up the enchanted land of the immortals, containing the entire universe — a Shangri-La that transcends space and time, the ultimate utopia."
This continues in Dividing Bridge (NANZUKA, 2011), centered on the theme of a bridge that connects this world with the next. "Long ago, it was commonly believed that there existed under the bridge what was, at any rate, a different world. As exemplified by the term ‘riverbed performer', there were strong ties there with the performing arts, and everything from street performances to kabuki shows took place there. The derogatory term ‘riverbed beggars' was also commonplace, and was deeply tied to the development of the theater. It was believed that this was another world, separate from reality and removed from any institution or established order. Dubious, eerie freak show huts lined the banks, with acts featuring freaks like the Long Neck Woman, the Snake Lady, and dwarves, exposing the underbelly of society as they bustled about in the darkness. That strange space with the bridge as its roof also served as a spot to hide dead bodies and as a secret gathering place for prostitutes. Troubled men and women would throw themselves from the parapets as the ultimate farewell in a lovers' suicide. At any rate, the connection with death is very strong, and that is one of the distinctive features of the bridge in Japan. For me, the profound and mystical world of the bridge poses a complex and haunting riddle. If the bridge is what divides this world from the afterworld, the border between the mundane and the divine, it must also be a place of meeting. Who is singing that song, faintly heard from the other side of the bridge? I want to find out. I will always be intrigued by the infinite darkness spreading out quietly beneath the bridge, the bottomless enigma hidden in that mysterious, strange space."
"Why does the impulse to paint arise? Even now I ponder that simple question. When I was a child, I had the most fun making pictures from what I remembered of movies and scenes I had just watched. At the time, my favorite character was Frankenstein as performed by Boris Karloff, the ‘King of Horror'. The sunken eyes, the drooping eyelids, the cylindrical electrodes embedded in both sides of his neck. The crown of his head flat as if the top part of his brain had been removed. I particularly liked the famous lake scene performed by Karloff, and I remember drawing it over and over. A young girl holding a kitten playfully tosses flowers into the lake with the monster. Soon the flowers are all gone and the monster, smiling, stretches his hands out toward the girl. Suddenly the scene cuts, leaving only the implication of the cruelty that would follow. With six crayons, I zealously colored in the monochromatic scene in primary colors. But I of course did not draw those two with the lake behind them exactly as I had seen them. Rather, I composed a surrealistic image, with Tarzan letting out a yell from the mountains on the opposite shore far away and crocodiles and the Creature from the Black Lagoon peeking their heads out from the lake. I layered on coats of crayon, starting to melt from my body heat, producing a thick matière similar to that of an oil painting; building the skin of the picture in that way gave me a rush of pleasure. The memory of that tactile sensation remains vivid, and even today I feel a physiological pleasure when I am layering on coats of paint. I cannot easily explain what the catalyst or motivation is for painting, and no matter how much I think about it I cannot find a precise answer. The only thing I am certain of is the impact of my childhood experiences. The subjects that are of interest to me – that indescribable sense of touch when layering coats of paints, the process of incorporating inspiration from movies into a painting – are the same for me to this day. My approach to painting hasn't changed at all since my childhood days."