The Tsutsugaki Works of Shoichi Tsurukawa

by Margot BuermannPosted on

Japanese artist Shoichi Tsurukawa uses a distinct technique called tsutsugaki to explore the “colors of emotions” in his bizarre worlds inhabited by monstrous figures. Rendered on cotton canvas, his miniature-esque creations are noted for their bold colors and intricate detail. Born in 1984, Tsurukawa has exhibited in numerous galleries and art fairs, including in Amsterdam, Busan and Tokyo.

The folk craft of tsutsugaki (from tsutsu, “tube” and gaki, “drawing”) peaked in popularity during Japan’s Edo period (1603–1867) and has since become a rare art form. Tsurukawa explains his contemporary take on the process: “It begins with mixing the glue dye paint and [squeezing] it out of a cone-shaped tube onto the cloth. After steaming and washing off the glue, the patterns and colors are able to fixate on the cloth.” The artist adds that he prefers to work with this method because “the flow of my emotions during the creative process is expressed in a more realistic manner”.

Tsurukawa often relates to emotions in terms of color, revealing in his artist statement, “I can easily indulge myself in the colors of happiness, anger and grief as my heart is always drawn by the vividness of my own emotions.”

“What I want to portray is humans, namely the common ‘something’ that lies underneath our appearance,” he continues. “As I do not know much about other human beings, I decided to draw myself, a human named ‘Shoichi Tsurukawa’.”

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