The aftermath of what seemed to be a torrent of artistic energy.

On Saturday, June 9th, 2007 I had the fortunate opportunity to attend the opening party of “Everests” held at Shift’s own, SOSO. Having met Takahi Kawanishi, the artist behind “Everests” the night before, I could tell that this person is very easy going and definitely an interesting person. The night started out with the opening party at 7:00 pm as people trickled into the cafe slowly but surely. The cafe had already been decked out with the exhibit and set up with music equipment, so it was just a matter of time until more people, and Kawanishi had entered.


The exhibition had a good reception with many pieces being shown around SOSO. Displaying different styles and mediums the pieces had quite a varying and unique feel about them. Some popping out of the frame, others so vivid and expressive, and others still completely different with the artist’s humorous side showing through. One of the pieces that caught my eye particularly was one piece with sheet music, with burnt edges that seemed to be pasted together, yet somehow represented as one. With varying sizes and feelings from each painting, you could tell that Kawanishi’s personality had shown through each and every one of them.


The exhibit in full swing as well as the party, led to the highlight of the evening, the live painting by the exhibits own, Kawanishi. He entered, ever so stoic and composed wearing his “Satori Gym” t-shirt, which he apparently bought for 200 or so yen, he wrote out “Live Painting” and “Start” as he suddenly threw up the red liquid he had been holding in his mouth. Rather sudden and unexpected, the crowd laughed along as he begun drawing various characters including a very familiar face, Doraemon. Seeing live painting in itself is different as I have never seen it myself and with Kawanishi’s unique and fun personality I could tell that it was going to be very interesting.

Using multiple mediums, paints, pastels, ink blown from a ball point pen, it was almost as if his drawings and painting was evolving as he continued, starting as one thing and eventually transforming and becoming something completely different. Where a cute character can become a scary face, then a woman, it was definitely some thing to be seen.


Among other things his “ever changing painting” took the form of a tree, three faces, an abstract image of the skyline of some unknown city at night, and other things that this writer still doesn’t know what is. With that however, he then took out a frame and starting framing what many thought was the final piece, but almost dissatisfied with what he’d done he dropped it on the floor, picked up the paper and covered it again in white paint. As many looked in awe at what was happening in front of them, he continued to change his painting and as he was, it was almost as if you were able to see what his mind was thinking, what it was like to see through an artists eyes.


He then started blow torching the then used frame and begun to condition it with the torch as well as other paints and inks. As he picked up the then white painting to frame it, through the glass you could see the layers and inkling of what it used to be. Cutting out small pieces of the paper that littered the floor that once was some incarnation of the painting; he pasted them onto the glass. Adding paint and drawing a stem and leaves, the painting eventually become a very beautiful flower of which had “EVERESTS IN SAPPORO” written on the bottom. This was to be the show piece at SOSO that which you can see along with the exhibit now.

The aftermath of what seemed to be a torrent of artistic energy, consisted of many papers on the floor which were parts of the painting and a very large splotch of pink paint that was caused by a straying hand. The table was also a complete mess. You can see what it was like, right now at the center of SoSo Café as we have left the table as well as the material on it intact since that night.


As Kawanishi left abruptly for a smoke out side, many people tagged along for an informal Q&A session. Coming back, his colleague that was there with him the whole time, mentioned that he should also sign the table as it also is a part of his art, at which he signed with a little spelling mistake, “THAK YOU SOSO CAFE 2007.”


Afterwards I had the opportunity to talk to him for a little, mind you my Japanese isn’t exactly the best. Simply asking things like “what do you like to eat” to which he replied “junk food” in English and “ebi” in Japanese. I had also asked him if it was fun, hearing “No! No Future!” Indeed he was a very interesting person and I had a very enjoyable time meeting and watching him as he worked. As I said good bye that night, I said to him in English, “You’re a very interesting person.” Indeed you are and it was awesome meeting you, thank you for the souvenir and I hope to see you again!

Kawanishi Takahi Exhibition “EVERESTS” Sapporo
Date: June 9th – 28th, 2007
Time: 11:00-21:00
Place: SOSO
Address : 1F Sansei Bld. S1 W13, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
Tel: 011-280-2240

Text and photos: Eric Choo

[Help wanted] Inviting volunteer staff / pro bono for contribution and translation. Please e-mail to us.