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Extraordinary handmade drawings by Japanese artist Ikeda Manabu

Imagess: Ikeda Manabu.

It seems that the Japanese artist Ikeda Manabu has the measure of time and understands its true value. He is known for these amazing large-scale drawings that can take several years to complete. The level of detail is incredible, and the sentiment they contain comments upon the modern world itself.

The artist works in 8 hour days, in roughly 100mm squares using acrylic pens. He estimates the latest work he has commenced will take three years to complete. When he starts a piece, he does not know how it will develop, nor how it will finish. He relies simply on the metre of time to give a structure to the seemingly endless tasks he sets himself.

The images are of dense, somewhat dystopian worlds where traditional Japanese architecture, set in its romantic landscape, is being simultaneously consumed and supported by modern architectural constructions. Sometimes these appear semi-subteranian or just precariously clinging to a cliff face.

In the way that Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis, portrayed the glorious shiny modernity as underpinned by the dark forces of the machine process, these images might suggest a situation where modernity has been suppressed and exists as the force to sustain the ancient world, responsible for its meagre sustenance.

The images are simultaneously compelling, and somewhat apocalyptic. In this reading, I see the artist's relentless and grinding work ethic as analogous to the work regime imposed on the worker classes in Lang's film. Here however, it is the drudgery, but ultimate force of craft production that is highlighted in the artists endeavours.

Gratitude to Hi Fructose where you can see an interview with the artist.

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