Madsaki loves Seiko, covets a Lange, and thinks good artwork is boring.
Japanese artist Madsaki is understood greatest identified for his up to date takes on basic topics and reinterpretations of iconic portray from throughout artwork historical past. He prefers spray cans to grease paints and vivid, punchy colours to extra muted shades. However he is additionally garnered consideration for his work of particular watches, together with the whole lot from old-school Seiko Pogues to Rainbow Rolex Daytonas. He isn’t simply an artist and a watch collector, he is an artist who makes artwork about his watch amassing.
Simply final week, Madsaki opened his newest present at Perrotin Gallery New York. Hello Darkness, My Old Friend (I’ve Come To Talk With You Again) covers a spread of topics, together with cigarette adverts, road life in New York and Tokyo, basic album covers, and necessary moments in sports activities, to say only a few. Whereas there are not any watch work on this explicit exhibition, I nonetheless wished to meet up with Madsaki at Perrotin forward of the opening. I wished to learn about his inventive observe, why he is so obsessive about watches, and the way he makes use of paint to speak the issues he cannot put into phrases. This is our dialog:
Whats up Darkness, My Outdated Buddy (I’ve Come To Discuss With You Once more) at Perrotin Gallery New York.
HODINKEE: Let’s begin with the large information: You are about to open Whats up Darkness, My Outdated Buddy (I’ve Come To Discuss With You Once more), your first solo gallery present with Perrotin Gallery New York. What ought to individuals count on to see once they go to the gallery?
Madsaki: All of the work for this present are about my private life. They’re about coming to the States [from Osaka], rising up in New Jersey, experiencing 9/11 … the ’80s and ’90s, the place I constructed my persona and my character. A few of the work are type of darkish, however there’s all the time a narrative behind it. It is simply my private life by way of work. I’ve bought sports activities work, music work. Every little thing that made me who I’m as we speak.
I used to be in Osaka till I used to be six years previous, so I’ve virtually no recollections from there. I do know I used to be a extremely quiet child in Japan although, and after I bought to Jersey I used to be bullied by the neighbors. I spoke no English. I had to attract to speak. That’s what bought me into artwork. I didn’t know earlier than that you can draw and truly talk one thing.
Madsaki earlier than the present’s opening.
The place does the title for the present come from?
It was enjoyable rising up in Jersey, however there have been additionally a number of darkish moments as a result of I am Asian and was in complete white suburbia. There have been a number of issues occurring. It’s about revisiting these moments, however not in a miserable means. These issues made me who I’m.
Additionally, after I was in elementary faculty, my dad was all the time listening to Simon & Garfunkel and that music, The Sound of Silence, with that lyric. Once I first heard it and understood English, it simply hit me. It was like, wow. It was an enormous second.
We’ve clearly bought to speak about watches, too. How did you first fall in love with watches?
Once I was a child, I feel in second grade, my grandma purchased me a digital Alba watch with Mickey Mouse on it. I might simply take a look at all of it day, taking part in with the buttons. After that, I bought into Swatch watches, nevertheless it was solely perhaps two or three years in the past that I bought into mechanical watches. After my daughter was born, about 10 years in the past, my good friend gave me the Omega Speedmaster. I knew it was cool, however I didn’t know way more than that.
Then I began actually taking a look at watches. I purchased a Seiko 5 so I might look by way of the again and see the mechanics. I wished to begin with the fundamentals so I might finally respect the higher watches. It’s a complete dependancy.
Madsaki rocking his new Snowflake in entrance of one in every of his work.
So what made you need to then paint watches?
Time is transferring us slowly as we communicate, you already know. It’s an enormous factor. And a watch, it’s a part of my physique, a part of my schedule. It runs my studio and the whole lot else in my life. However, if I die, the watch will nonetheless be ticking lengthy after (so long as somebody’s carrying it or winding it, or no matter). And that historical past I’ve had with the watch will get transmitted to the following era. It simply goes on, telling the entire story of an individual and their historical past. I feel that’s stunning.
And it has a particular connection to portray too. The work additionally stay after I die. Whether or not it’s a watch or a portray, all these recollections I put in go on and on endlessly. I’m taking a look at this with a protracted, lengthy lens.
A sampling of Madsaki’s watch work.
You paint every kind of watches, from classic Seikos to Mil-Subs to Patek Philipps Grand Problems. Why that variety? Is that intentional?
Should you take a look at my artwork, the whole lot’s so various. I haven’t got any sense of “You understand, this portray’s greater, this factor is decrease,” and it’s the identical with watches. If it hits me, that’s it. It may be costly or not costly. Seiko 5s are actually playful. You get to fiddle, take pleasure in it, and purchase it. You may’t all the time try this with an costly watch.
I notably love Seiko as a result of the watches are informal and have a protracted historical past. I’m Japanese and in these early days with quartz watches they actually messed with the Swiss psychologically. I really like that historical past.
A number of of the watches in Madsaki’s assortment – notice that two-tone Seiko 5 “Datejust.”
In an interview you probably did with Hypebeast, you stated that good artwork is boring. Are good watches boring too?
There is no such thing as a good watch, and that’s why we are able to get so addicted. We all the time have to purchase one other one. We’re all the time searching for the following factor. That’s good. It’s not so good for the checking account [laughs], nevertheless it retains you searching for that grail watch.
Do you will have a dream watch to color?
Proper now I am within the honeymoon stage with this Grand Seiko Snowflake, but when I painted it I feel it will simply be a white canvas! So I don’t suppose I might ever paint it, however I would need to fiddle with it.
I truly purchased the watch in February on my spouse’s birthday. I’m born in January, so I just like the “snow” connection, plus this model was launched in 2017, the 12 months I joined Perrotin Gallery. I like these connections.
My work are all tough and this was is complete perfection. That’s part of being Japanese that I don’t have in any respect. [laughs]
Madsaki is greatest identified for his “Wannabe” work that riff on icons and classics.
Some other watches out of your assortment you actually like or need to share?
I like a number of various things. I’ve a Seiko 5 that I actually like that’s out of manufacturing however I discovered one model new from somebody who didn’t notice what it was. I bought it actually low-cost. It’s a Seiko 5 that’s identical to a two-tone Rolex Datejust. I don’t suppose Seiko was doing an homage on goal, however I feel there’s a number of humorousness on this watch. It’s a humorous factor.
Additionally, I do a sequence of work referred to as the Wannabe work, my renditions of iconic photographs or basic work. In a humorous means, this Seiko 5 is the Wannabe Datejust. I put on it on a regular basis in my studio.
What watch are you hoping to purchase subsequent?
I’m all the time dreaming concerning the Lange Zeitwerk. I’ve all the time wished that watch. In Ginza, I stroll by that retailer about as soon as a month and all the time need to go in and purchase it, however I by no means do. You’ve bought the digital numbers up entrance and then you definately take a look at the again and see the artwork and craftsmanship in that motion. Each time I see it I’m identical to, “Oh my God!”
With platforms like Instagram, we’re all surrounded by photographs on a regular basis. Do you suppose there’s a hierarchy to pictures? Are some extra necessary than others?
To me, the whole lot is simply the identical. There is not any hierarchy or something. It’s about every individual referring to the pictures. You’ve got some connections, you already know, whether or not it’s a Marlboro advert or a Rembrandt. It’s the identical factor.
Additionally, I’ve to ask: Your Instagram account follows zero different accounts. What’s the story there?
[Laughs] Lots of people ask me, and I all the time inform them I am not an asshole. I didn’t do it to be cool or something.
You understand, if you open up Instagram, it is simply an overload of photographs, proper? So if I comply with somebody, these photographs simply carry on coming, however I need to select what I see. So I simply do not comply with something. If I need to see your stuff, I am going to your account. It’s like remembering your good friend’s telephone numbers within the ’90s. I do know the accounts I like, and I get to take a look at them after I need these photographs. It’s nerve-racking if you simply have photographs coming at you all day.
Actually, I am not an asshole.