Artist IDETASTUHIRO has changed his name to TIDE and is holding his first solo exhibition at GALLERY COMMON in Harajuku, Tokyo. He has been drawing in monochrome since 2009, and recently, his cat-inspired work has become popular both in Japan and abroad. Although his surroundings continuously get more excited, he captures his situation calmly from above without being overwhelmed. His solo exhibition is called “DEBUT” so, I asked the remade TIDE about his creations, which he hadn’t talked much about before.
——First, why did you change your name from IDETATSUHIRO to TIDE?
TIDE: I always sign the back of my work, and I used to write TIDE, which is short for TATSUHIRO. From that, I am recognized as TIDE overseas. In addition, I was still known as IDETATSUHIRO, and overseas this caused confusion with people calling me IDETA or TSUHIRO, etc. I want to focus on working overseas in the future, so to make things easier, I changed my name to TIDE.
——Before IDETATSUHIRO, you wrote your name in hiragana, right?
TIDE: I started working as a writer in 2009 and have had my name in hiragana for 10 years. About two years ago, my recognition overseas increased, and having my name in hiragana gave an impression which was too soft for the style, so I chose to write it using the alphabet from last year.
——When did you decide to hold your solo exhibition “DEBUT”?
TIDE: About six months ago. We had an online exhibition in May, and GALLERY COMMON let me use their venue to take pictures for it. At that time, I imagined having an exhibition there, and I thought specifically about how many pieces I needed. We decided to hold it at this time to coincide with my name change.
——In recent years, your work has been inspired by cats, but where did that idea come from?
TIDE: It began because I wanted to have a flat (2-D) character on a real (3-D) background, like in old animations. The image of a flat character on a lot of cloth in a bedroom comes to mind, which is the current style. The cat is one of several motifs, which began with drawing a stuffed cat, then flattening it to become the character it is today. For the time being, I will draw using cat motifs, but I also want to draw other things.
——I’ve heard that the theme of this exhibition is Childhood.
TIDE: That’s right. The original scene is of four family members sleeping in the form of the Japanese character for river (川) when they were children. I felt a lot of relief and a little unease from this work. As with previous work, there is a sense of nostalgia affecting the original scene childhood.
Conduct small experiments in one piece to the next.
——You originally painted in black and white in pencil. What has changed for you to use acrylic paints in recent years?
TIDE: When drawing a dense picture in pencil, even a small size takes quite a long time. I thought about making larger pieces, so I changed to acrylic paint. I also want to try things that I haven’t done before, such as spraying. No. 150 in this exhibition was the first large piece I made (2273mm x1818mm) and I couldn’t do it with a pencil.
——All your work is rendered in black and white, have you thought of doing color work?
TIDE: I don’t think about color. I like to express beautiful silhouettes which becomes blurred through color, and the impact fades.
——Are there any artists who have influenced you?
TIDE: There are many. Roy Lichtenstein or Cy Twombly were used in an image in posters in this exhibition. I wouldn’t be able to stop if I started mentioning any more artists.
——Do you run out of ideas?
TIDE: No. Every time I do a small experiment in one work, I think of something I want to try in the next one, so I start working on the next piece based on that. Basically, I draw some kind of picture every day, which hasn’t changed even due to the pandemic.
——Which piece did you draw first and last for this exhibition?
TIDE: The first is a stuffed cat on a bed, and the last 2 pieces were drawn at almost the same time and are a cat holding a dog and a stuffed cat holding a stuffed animal.
——You used to do illustrations for clients. Do you still take commissions?
TIDE: Since last year, I’ve been focusing on writing, so basically I don’t.
——In the past year or so, awareness of your work has increased considerably, has this affected your thinking?
TIDE: There are times when I realize I’m becoming more popular, but I don’t get emotional, and I feel like can see the situation from a different view.
——What is the current situation of your work soaring though secondary distribution?
TIDE: I didn’t intend it to. I feel the price will increase which I’m unsure about.
——You said that you would focus overseas in the future. Is that decided?
TIDE: There are exhibitions in Korea and Hong Kong scheduled for this year. Next year has also been set to a certain extent, but I can’t say any more. Holding my solo exhibition, DEBUT, under the name TIDE feels like a new beginning for me.