Juxtaposed; The International Debut of Yukimasa Ida

By Jo Phillips

As an international art hub, London provides each and every one of us the ability to muse around its abundance of art galleries and museums free of charge (aren’t we lucky!). Even with Frieze and The Other Art Fair just around the corner, the innumerable amount of gallery exhibitions occurring around the capital, what to see and who to look out for can become a little overwhelming, not to mention a little time consuming. Here at .Cent we enjoy celebrating all things creative and although we cannot provide you with an exhaustive list of what should be on your itinerary, we can provide a helping hand…

Already finding his way into some of the world’s biggest private art collections (such as Yusaku Mazaewa’s as an impressive start), and commissioned to be part of the Leonardo DiCaprio foundation gala, Japanese artist Yukimasa Ida is fast becoming a name to watch in the contemporary art world!

Represented by Justin Cook, a prominent art dealer and gallery owner, Bespoke – will be Ida’s first international debut outside of Asia. Although not a household name (yet), Ida brings an intense balance of realism and abstraction amongst his breadth of work. With beautifully rendered juxtapositions on canvas, Ida has a distinct aesthetic which explores the nature of human existence and identity.

Swirling with mystery and emotion, Ida’s portraits appear like a flashing memory which has been eternalized onto a canvas. Japanese culture recognises this dramatic feeling as Ichi-go ichi-e, a cultural concept of treasuring meetings with people. By wanting to celebrate such moments in time, Ida’s exhibition explores his own experience of growing up in modern day Japan and the ever-changing world around it.


The Wiltshire based studio from where Ida has been painting for Bespoke has allowed him to experience the old and beautiful aesthetic of the countryside with its energy seeping into Ida’s psyche with jaw dropping results. Concentrating around three different motifs, works included in Bespoke depict romantic film stills, stark and powerful abstracted portraiture and Ida’s memories of animals whilst growing up on his grandparent’s farm, however the animals depicted for this exhibition are not from Japan, but Wiltshire!


We were lucky enough to speak to Ida before his international debut takes place, below is what Ida had to share with us about his life, his art and his inspirations:

“My father is an artist and observing how he worked watching as a child I saw the various forms he worked in, I really respected him as an artist, but I did not plan to become an artist at all. I just liked painting and making something. Looking back at the homemade picture book I made when I was young, I guess I wanted to be an athlete or a carpenter!

During my teenage years I experienced some setbacks and to be honest, there were times when I even felt like I had lost everything. However, at the same time I could not help notice that God had given me the ability to draw pictures. After those bad times, I found myself sitting next to a pen and paper. So, I drew a picture and I enjoyed it. Now I love art.


I do not think about my career much, but compared to the beginning, I have gotten to understand others better and an eye to see through the emotions of people. I also learned how to build new relationships, which I think is important outside of an artistic career. I cannot control what emotions people feel when they view my work, so I try not to think about it as the work is not me. Each one is its own independent entity. The work that I show to people is only what I created by myself and my own impressions. These impressions and various elements within work such as anger, sorrow, laziness, joy, happiness…


In the process of creating images, the most important thing for me is to encounter things that happen every day. There is no rest in my life. I am producing all the time. Although not limited to artists, certainly creating the right environment where you can do whatever you want is the most difficult part of being an artist for me personally. There are points where people can stand and view my work as abstract, but ultimately, I am looking for the ultimate realism. Speaking of whether the head in an image is abstract does not quite describes how my brain works. There is no separation between reality and abstraction. Thinking about past memories, how to depict the present more concretely, and repeating this act has become my style. However, in my opinion life and art are equal and connected and my style will continue to change, as all things keep changing, with the flowing of time.


The contradictions started in my heart. It is the same when drawing still life and inanimate objects. When the drinking apples have decayed and turned black, I feel the flow of life and time. Up until now I have had a complex perspective of human life. I am interested in the existence of others, simply because I like people and it stems from images such as time, life and death and also birth. I love to be lonely, but on the other hand from the bottom of my heart I love to be connected and loved by others. What people may feel by looking at my work is free for them to feel, however, whatever it is, if you see my work and feel something, I will be glad.


It was an honour to be directly chosen to be part of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Gala. I had a lot of hardships in my family from early childhood to adolescence and my life was dark. I felt that I lost everything. But painting was there, with me, all the time. It is painting the connects Mr. DiCaprio, and various people, to me. I appreciate art and am truly grateful for all encounters it brings. The produced works for Bespoke have all the interesting experiences and inspiration from the environment of the UK. And the setting of Labassa Wolfe will certainly make the exhibition different from usual. Please feel free to come along!”

Bespoke will be open from Friday 6th – Friday 13th  October 2017 at Labassa Woolfe in Fitzrovia, London.

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