“Look closely… there are eggs under the leaves. This work holds life and death – the cycle of life.” Artist Riusuke Fukahori whispered to us as he walked passed at the ICN Gallery in Shoreditch, London where his exhibition opened recently. We were looking into a wooden container that was filled with clear water and dozens of goldfish, some were full of life swimming away while others were facing the end of their lives… Only after a second look do you realise it is actually a painting; an amazing work of art. If you are looking for something to be marvelled, this is definitely it.
We were there for a live painting performance by Riusuke Fukahori himself. The canvas was the gallery window. Paint tubes and brushes were prepared on the street and people were gathering around waiting anxiously for the performance to start. Fukahori’s work is extremely intricate and delicate, I don’t even dare to imagine how much work goes into one project… this led me to think about how a “live painting” in just 40 min would work? I almost felt nervous thinking why he would do it in such a short time… yet the result was just brilliant. Fukahori understands the nature of performance well and performed in such a way that only the audience and artist could understand the full story. He painted a big, white slightly fish-like shape then filled it with bright colours, female figures, a London cityscape, rivers, blood, life and death. He overlaid beautiful fish scales and painted over all with a light-beige colour, concealing the stories underneath. Magically the bright colours beneath became accents and a glistening goldfish clearly appeared on the window looking into the streets of London. He finished with one of the highlights of the performance – adding the tail fins. He pulled out what looked like a massive broom, dipped it into white paint, and as everyone held their breath, he gave a dramatic brush of tails on the window. It was brilliant, truly amazing. I could not explain exactly why, but I was deeply moved and touched.
The goldfish on the window is undoubtedly beautiful even if you have not seen the performance and don’t know what lies underneath, but witnessing the process was truly precious and intimate. It’s probably what I appreciate in his work; personal and private, yet open to anyone who is willing to come closer.