Tokyo Portraits is a series of figurative paintings inspired by the people and places of Tokyo – responses to everyday life in Japan’s capital, as seen through the eyes of a visiting UK artist. Inspired by the city’s crowded streets, large canvases depict masses of densely packed faces. These works have been made in collaboration with hundreds of people living or working in Tokyo, each volunteering to sit for their portraits. Other paintings are based upon everyday life in Tokyo, depicting people in trains, shops and streets – subtle distortions in space and scale often being used to combine the familiar with a slight sense of the unreal.
Themes dealt with in these works include overpopulation, community and the individual and the group. A recurring theme is urban isolation – anonymous strangers in crowded public spaces; people sharing the same close physical space, but mentally existing in separate private worlds – a phenomenon that can be seen in large cities such as Tokyo. This exhibition will also include Japanese ink paintings and smaller individual portraits of Tokyo residents, such as the writer Donald Richie.
For the artist talk, Carl Randall was joined by Andrew Stahl, Head of Undergraduate Painting and Director of Undergraduate Studies at The Slade School of Fine Art, University College London.
Image: Tokyo Subway, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 130 x 162cm © Carl Randall
About the contributors
Carl Randall (b. 1975, UK) is a figurative artist who has studied in London and Tokyo. A graduate of The Slade of Fine Art and The Princes Drawing School in London, he has won several UK prizes including 1st prize in the national Singer & Friedlander/Sunday Times Watercolour Competition. Continuing his art career in Japan, he was awarded a Daiwa Scholarship in 2003 and the Japanese Government (MEXT) Postgraduate Scholarship in 2006. He completed a Masters and Doctorate in Fine Art at Tokyo University of Fine Arts and the Nomura Prize was awarded to him for his Doctorate Graduation exhibition, resulting in one of his paintings being bought by the University Museum for their permanent collection. Most recently, Carl was awarded the prestigious 2012 BP Travel Award by The National Portrait Gallery in London.
Andrew Stahl, born in London, is a British painter and is also Head of Undergraduate Painting and Director of Undergraduate Studies at The Slade School of Fine Art, University College London. His paintings approach cultural differences and connections using pictorial language, imagination and figuration. Images become vehicles to carry painterly experimentation. Much of his work reflects on travels to Japan and Thailand and addresses the conflation of time, space and cultures that long-haul travel brings. This has been underpinned by a series of residencies in Thailand, plus residencies in Australia (Sydney) and China (Guangzhou). Recent solo shows include Robert Steele Gallery, New York and Matthew Bown Gallery, London, 2007; Anywhere Anytime Anyhow, Ardel Gallery Bangkok 2009 and New Paintings, Robert Steele Gallery, New York, 2010