Toshio Saeki Onikage Notes

(from Onikage book)

My mother liked films. When I was in elementary school, she often took me to the small film theater called Ginei, which stood next to the market. But this was our secret pleasure, as my father was a very serious man and was prejudiced against entertainment films.

The screen heroes were all cool in their own special ways, and I used to get very excited over their moves. I loved Arakan's (a.k.a. Kanjuro Arashi) Kurama Tengu, Kazuo Hasegawa's Heiji Zenigata, and Denjiro Ouckouchi and Bantsuma's (a.k.a. Tsumasaburou Bando) Tange Sazen. But Chiezo Kataoka's Tarao Bannai series was my favorite. The suspicious, funny, and somewhat grotesque-looking protagonist's disguises as seven different characters left a strong impression on me.

Films leave a very vivid memory when consumed at young age, when one's sensibilities are willing to take in whatever they can. More than fifty years have passed since then, but still today, in the back of my mind, fragments of the characters and scenes from the films remain crammed in my head, glittering mysteriously. They always manage to jump into my drawings whenever there is a chance. This stock of imagery is my treasure, and I thank my mother for that.

At school, the next day after going to the Ginei theater, I would always talk abut the films to my classmates, and everyone seemed delighted to hear my stories, listening with wide eyes. The pleasant sensation I felt when I was able to amuse other kids through my stories was something I had never experienced before, and I felt that such a sense of unity was something very important. Soon after, I began making my own picture-stories and acting them out myself. I became very popular amongst kids in my town. I realized the one thing I could not stand was jfor my creations to be boring. The attitude of pursuing entertaining elements in my work remained with me throughout childhood, and it seemed to have a firm root in my retelling of the films, and the picture-stories I created.

When a boy enters adolescence, he becomes disturbed by erotic thoughts from time to time. In the art high school where I was studying, elder students would sell obscene photos in the dark corridors next to the studios. The photos were very stimulating to me. They said the photos were stolen from their fathers' secret albums. The nature of men being inseparable from erotica thoughts, and it being handed down from father to son, seemed very funny and sad to me at the same time.

Amidst working hard on sketches of plaster figures and oil paint, I gradually found myself drawing forbidden erotic pictures. At that time, I had no experience with women yet, so my imagination was persistently obscene. I drew the pictures to satisfy the few friends I had, but first and foremost, they had to arouse and infatuate me sexually, or else I would not be happy with them. So as gratifying a task as it was for me, it was quite a difficult practice. I had no idea that this secret creative engagement would turn out to be the strong foundation for my future works.

In the past, a famous writer described my works as "obviously peculiar" and I cannot completely deny that. I want to surprise people, make them happy, and if possible, even completely enchat the minds of those who see my work. To realize that, I will choose whatever method it takes, and will not limit myself.

In the modern world, where one rarely stops to think about the truth behind the moment, you might enjoy it if you take a peep at my mysterious and strange illusions. To those who frown at them, I want to place the drawings right in front of your face and ask if you really disapporve. I'm always thinking, how wonderful it would be to give shape to psychological pictures which everyone hides and holds deep within them.

Some random thoughts.....

Saeki Toshio
March, 2009

(from the publisher)
In this collection we present a selection of Toshio Saeki's previously unseen works, printed in a larger-than-usual format. We felt it would be interesting to show the reader a bit of Saeki's creative technique. While most images are shown here in full color, we have presented some in their original black and white format, with overlays reproducing Saeki's method for adding color to these pictures. Saeki typically does not apply color directly to his black and white artwork, but instead uses these overlays to enumerate the precise values of the colors he wants. He works with the terminology of the four-color printing process: cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). For example, he indicates a woman's skin tone should be reproduced with 10% magenta, while her nipples should be 60% magenta. Most of the men in Saeki's artwork have a skin tone that is 30% magenta, 20% cyan, and 50% yellow (no black). He calls this method chinto printing - the picture is complete only after it has been printed. It is a modern version of the ukiyo-e, a genre of Japanese woodcut prints or paintings produced between the 27th and 20th cernturies. Ukiyo-e were works of collaboration between the eshi (artist) and the surishi (printer). Saeki is paying homage to this style, and considers himself an eshi. It is our hope that by illuminating this technique, it better helps the reader to appreciate Saeki's unique style, deep philosophy as an artist, and his immense talent.