2 2017 AUTUMN

Shigeru AoiRepresentative Director of A-TOM Co. Ltd.

Question what you see and hear, and break through the ceiling!

Just imagine a strong impact you receive which you cannot forget, the instant you see an object. If you look carefully at a psychedelic and chaotic picture, you may see a Mickey Mouse or a Betty Boop figure in it. In the picture, the face of these characters may be depicted slightly deformed, and all the motifs may be intricately intertwined like Mandala, creating a complex world view. Mr. Keiichi Tanaami’s art is often described as Surrealism or Psychedelic art, but his works are so powerful leaving the viewers somewhat aghast, that it seems that such technical words are unnecessary to describe his works. In fact, the characters depicted in his works are a metaphor of the war experience that he went through as a boy, but, even though such explanation is not told, the degree of impact provided by his works is unchangeable. I decided to purchase this picture, and it is placed in the meeting place on the first floor of the Courtyard HIROO. The picture is displayed on the far end of a long table seating 10 people. When I look up and gaze at this picture in a situation when I am in a deadlock at meetings, I feel as though I can come up with fresh new ideas.

On the third floor of the Courtyard HIROO, of which I am the owner, there is a gallery. I have always liked art, and in my student days, I had traveled all over the world to visit art museums as a bag-packer. Among them were European art museums of various scales, and the one that provided me the most impact was the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. I was deeply impressed by the fact that Van Gogh was greatly influenced by the Japanese ukiyoe-paintings, and had admired Japan as a utopia. When I was young, I used to have an image of Japan as being “not cool”; however, Van Gogh’s paintings have influenced me to think otherwise. Art is indeed, very influential. Since this experience, I have become to like art even more.

Certainly, I like art, but I must say, I do not understand the difficult theories or logic of it, nor is able to answer decently towards such questions as, “What kind of art do you like?” If I were to answer to such a question, the answer, with some contemplation, may be, “a work that makes you think, “I wish I could see what was going on in the painter’s mind!” Mr. Tanaami’s paintings are surely such paintings. Yes, indeed, I feel very excited when I imagine how his unique world is expressed. Meanwhile, I also feel like sighing with the same kind of amazement, “Wow! This is fantastic!” when I happen to encounter on an absolutely unknown work created by, for example, an art university student. In such work, I feel that the nature of that artist is expressed in full within the work, and the sharing of such real worldview is, in my opinion, the very value of art. Art is indeed, not an imaginary fairy tale. It is, rather, a unique tale which is real and essential, expressing what goes in the creator’s mind in a two or three-dimensional world.

I like art, but, unfortunately, I cannot draw pictures well. Artists often say, “Everyone is an artist as a child, and for me, it just happens to be that I am continuing to be.” Yes, certainly, I do agree with this. Without exception, I, too, drew pictures and listened to music as a child. Just as I scribbled some pictures of Doraemon (a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Fujiko F. Fujio) out of the blue on some note pads besides my home telephone, art was everywhere in my daily life. However, as I grew older, I let go of art. Instead of holding onto a limitless creativity, I put myself under a ceiling of “common-sense”. Thus, thereon, I have only been able to think within the restricted area of mind because of this “common-sense” blocking my imagination. If I were to draw a Doraemon today, I would surely be concerned with the details to draw it “with 3 whiskers on both sides with this angle” or, “with the head and body balance ratio of 1:1” and my pen would not flow like in childhood. I think that grown-ups who continue to be artists are those who try to break through such “common-sense” regardless of such ceiling hanging above them. I like works created by such people. Certainly, one can shed safely from the rain and wind if protected by the umbrella of “common-sense”, or can avoid from being unjustly treated. However, I feel strong admiration and respect for the artists’ effort and style of creating a new horizon, questioning this “common-sense” ceiling as they break through their comfort zones. Though I work in a different field, I wish to pursue such style of living.

In the world of real estates, we also have such ceiling of “common-sense”. For example, to avoid waste and to make economically rational, model buildings is an act of creating such ceiling in one’s mind. The value of such buildings will not fall drastically in the future, and both the builders and the purchasers for such building will surely be protected economic-wise, profit-wise, efficiency-wise and so on under such ceilings. I am often asked the question, “Do you think that the value of this apartment will rise in the future?” and all the somewhat unforeseeable difficult questions such as, “What is the value property-wise?” or “What is the architectural value?” Frankly speaking, I cannot answer for sure to any of these questions, and believe that instead of choosing completely by reasoning, to leave room for one’s instinct, whether one likes the building or land and so on. Of course, choosing a building or land is, in a sense, a big bet, and choosing them completely through instinct is not possible. However, at the same time, I believe that whatever choice a person makes in his or her life, there is a certain extent of instinct involved; in other words, a “ruler” according to each person comes into play for such decisions.

Everyone has these rulers. These rulers are probably made by each person’s experience, history, where he or she was brought up, or educated, and such elements probably make up the personal sense of “likes” and “don’t really like” and so on. We unconsciously use our rulers even when we select which clothes or shoes to buy, or when we think of today’s dinner menu, and measure our “likes” and “not enough” or such feelings accordingly using our own rulers. The interesting aspect about these rulers is that it is constantly changing, or, should I say, evolving, that as it matures, it can open up a wind hole in the ceiling. Especially, these rulers react very sharply like a radar towards influential encounters. This is why, wherever I go in the world, I always run in the morning and enjoy the city, and in the evening after dinner, I take a slightly long way back to the hotel. My ruler reacts sharply whenever I happen to find interesting buildings within an ordinary residential area, or when I encounter on a historical street of stores and houses at a corner of a big city. In such instances, I once again realize my own ceiling, and break through it with the energy in want to create something new.

In the Courtyard HIROO, I wish to place art works that make people feel, “My goodness, this is awesome!”…works that cannot be measured by my own ruler. I wish to enhance the quality of the gallery in this way, and sincerely hope for many people to stop by to share this feeling. I believe that a person cannot be moved in heart and soul by just staying still in one place. I want people to shake their hearts and souls, and shake their “common-sense”, for these moments are so valuable in life. Moreover, if possible, I wish to support the activities of these artists that are producing such works. Even Van Gogh could probably not have been able to continue painting such masterpieces if it were not for his brother, Theo’s dedicated support, and his paintings that were greatly influenced by the Japanese ukiyoe that I was so moved in my student days, would probably not have been produced. I sincerely and passionately wish for the Courtyard HIROO to become a base where people value sharing the world of art with the rest of the world, and for them to keep their rulers nurturing in their hearts.