“Oceanid” by Teiji Hayama, 2011
Our artist of the week: Teiji Hayama
In some quarters, the subject matter that has driven Japanese artist Teiji Hayama’s rise to prominence may be a little controversial. He paints nude and semi-nude pale-skinned nymphs – girls on the verge of becoming women – although his motivations are in no way exploitative, instead concerned with the very real social and psychological changes undergone by such girls during this fragile stage of life.
Indeed, the use of nudity as a signal of vulnerability and innocence is recurrent in Japanese popular art, although Hayama undoubtedly draws on a much broader base of influences for his depiction of such pale, ethereal figures that are rich in the symbolism of Christian art.
An incredibly broad palette of influences…
Hayama’s works have been linked to everything from Greek mythology and the ukiyo-e genre to contemporary Japanese pop culture.
For many viewers, it is the unnerving, penetrating glare that Hayama’s subjects direct towards them which captivates. It marks quite the contrast with the otherwise angelic appearance of the frail bodies with pale tinted eyes that might put one more in mind of well-known images of female deities. So, what exactly are this intriguing artist’s motivations, where does he come from and where is he going?
Wide-ranging experiences from a young age…
Such a broad sweep of apparent influences in Hayama’s work probably isn’t so surprising once you know a little something of his back-story. Born in 1975 on the Japanese island of Kyushu, he grew up in a large artist family in Kumamoto and was subsequently raised in a Shinto environment.
The young Hayama went on to study at a Protestant Christian school, and from an early age, he was already gaining an appreciation for the contradictions between the ancient and modern, the traditional and eccentric that would significantly inform his art. After high school, he moved to London, studying at the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design from 1995 to 1998.
It was during this time that he also worked as a male model, appearing in various international magazines. After graduation, however, he returned to Japan, working as an assistant designer for the celebrated fashion designer and fragrance connoisseur, Issey Miyake.
“I moved to London where I got a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Fashion. At that time I was more fashion-oriented so I started a career in fashion. After years working in this field, I felt the urge to ‘get back to the roots’ and make a career as a fine art artist.
“Learning things at art school like any other life experience is part of what I am now and retrospectively what I create. As I explained learning art was a good experience but having a degree does not open the door of success at all. Art and struggle walk hand-in-hand, you have to smack many brick walls.” Source: oh so surreal
Creative relevance and talent that has brought major rewards…
It was Hayama’s art, however, and those unmistakably supernatural, elongated, milk-skinned nymphs that would prove central to his destiny. Now living and working in Switzerland, Hayama can reflect on a career to date that is rich in worldly accolades. A nomination for the 2008 Sovereign Art Prize helped to drive his rise to prominence and kick-start an impressive exhibiting record throughout Asia and Europe.
Just a few of the shows that have helped to perpetuate Hayama’s art far and wide include group exhibitions at The Holster Project in London and Janine Bean Gallery, Berlin, while he was also a star of the Scope Art Show in Basel in 2008, represented by Saatchi Online London. Among his more recent group shows was the 2015 BLOOOM Art Show, Cologne, with PinkZeppelin Gallery.
Then, there is the stellar roll-call of solo exhibitions that the artist can claim across cities such as Berlin, Düsseldorf, Chicago, Amsterdam and Singapore. Oh, and he has also gained significant press attention in recent years from publications including Rooms Magazine,Juxtapoz Magazine, Hi-Fructose Magazine and Catapult Art Mag.
Artistic sincerity that remains undimmed…
Hayama continues to make work and exhibit around the globe, but in doing so, is guided by his consistent motivation that his pieces faithfully show the transition from childhood to adolescence, documenting changes that are as social and mental as they are physical.
“La Prière”, “Yuri” and “Vesta” by Teiji Hayama, Images Sourced: Facebook
As Hayama has put it himself, “I want my portraits to have a psychological charge and the viewer to feel the fragility of this phase of life.” Such delicate and potentially surprisingly complicated subject matter is not the only aspect of the artist’s work to draw endless fascination among his many international admirers. Many observers have also noted, for example, how his use of cut and etched oil painted on wood could be said to represent a flirtation between the two worlds of painting and sculpture.
“Long hours, sometimes weeks, thinking for a direction on a new work. I mainly work with oil and sometimes combine oil and digital. I work both on canvas and wood panels. I like the difference between the two textures, the wood’s grain itself lends the painting a certain authenticity. I also work with aluminium, brass and stainless steel which are part of my etched panel.
“Being an artist is a way to reveal my most secret self. Being creative is being alive, creativity leads to joy and energy, joy is one of the most creative forces and energy gives the power to do it well.” Source: oh so surreal
One thing’s for sure; here at Addicted Art Gallery, we’re slightly thankful that the art world didn’t lose him to male modelling. Yes, he’s another one of our extremely worthy ‘Artists of the Week’!
Teiji Hayama, Image Source: teijihayama.wixsite.com