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Fumiya Fujii dazzles with fine art prowess

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Fumiya Fujii poses in front of his artworks.

By Eriko Fuchigami / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterMusician Fumiya Fujii, beloved by fans of all ages for his singing, has revived his second career as a fine artist. At a forthcoming exhibition, titled “The Diversity,” set to begin on Aug. 21 at a gallery in Daikanyama, Tokyo, Fujii will exhibit about 100 of his works, including computer graphic art, watercolors, oil paintings and paper cutouts. Indeed, Fujii himself embodies artistic diversity as his works span a variety of genres.

Fujii performed countless hit songs as the vocalist of pop band The Checkers. Even after transitioning to a solo career, he released widely acclaimed songs such as “True Love.”

However, he has also loved drawing since he was a small child. He always earned top marks in art classes at school, often winning prizes, and his art teacher urged him to attend an art or design school.

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  • © Fumiya Fujii 2019

    Hommage for Sandro Botticelli (copy of Venus & Mars)

  • © Fumiya Fujii 2019

    Girl (2013)

“The only class at school I was good at was art,” Fujii recalled. “Because art was my only talent, I thought I might have no choice but to make a living out of it.”

When he was a teenager, Fujii became fascinated by pop art after encountering works by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, among other artists.

“Warhol’s Campbell soup can paintings really amazed me,” he said. “I thought, ‘Is this also art?’”

The young Fujii nurtured his artistic sensitivities in his own way. He did not join the school art club, instead forming a rock band because he said he was a “scoundrel.”

Fujii, however, was already balancing music with art during those days. “I used to design tickets for dance parties,” he recalled.

Born in 1962, Fujii, a native of Fukuoka Prefecture, made his music debut in 1983. While aggressively pushing forward with his musical activities, Fujii started creating computer graphic art as a hobby when desktop computers had not yet become mainstream. He found immense pleasure in freely combining graphics and images of people, and created a number of cutting-edge works, marking the beginning of “Fumiyart.”

After The Checkers disbanded in December 1992, Fujii held his first art exhibition in July the following year — four months before he released his first solo CD, “True Love,” which went on to sell 2 million copies. About 150,000 people reportedly visited the exhibition. Fujii would go on to hold exhibitions both in Japan and overseas.

Meticulous strokes

The upcoming exhibition will be Fujii’s first in 16 years. He eagerly hopes the event marks a new beginning for him.

“I used to hold exhibitions whenever I wanted,” he said. “Now I want to create something other than songs that I can add to my legacy as I grow older.”

That said, there is no formality or rigidity in the works to be displayed at the exhibition. Fujii is seeking to enhance his creative capacity by using various artistic methods. Why does he use such a broad range of techniques that his works appear to be created by different artists?

“I’m searching for my own style. It’s like I haven’t really found it yet,” he said modestly, though all of his works look professionally made.

The most overwhelming is a reproduction of “Venus and Mars,” the masterpiece by the great Italian Renaissance artist Botticelli. Fujii used extra-fine ballpoint pens to draw the work, “Hommage for Sandro Botticelli,” before reproducing the paintings of the Roman god and goddess resting leisurely on an imposing 70-centimeter tall, 179-centimeter wide canvas. A close look at the work reveals extraordinarily fine, detailed pen strokes. The work is breathtakingly beautiful as the layers of colors create deep gradations.

“When I find interesting artistic tools, I want to try them out,” Fujii said. “I took on this work because I came across some very fine ballpoint pens and thought I could make something with them.

“People ask me if it’s hard to draw, but it’s not that hard,” he continued. “I just worked in the basement of my home, which is like my studio.”

“Sticker mosaic Maria” (seen at far right in the photo at left) is another unique work by Fujii, made by applying tiny stickers on an acrylic board. He said he was inspired by stickers he found at a Tokyu Hands variety shop. The work sparkles with clusters of small stickers, including some shaped like stars and others with smiles.

Fujii’s most refined talent, however, is watercolors, as his portraits of women stand out for their soft colors and gentle brushwork.

“Watercolors are easy to handle,” Fujii said. “But the drawback is you can’t go back once you’ve painted something. If you make a mistake, then you need to embrace it in the work.”

Starting with computer graphics, Fujii has gradually shifted his interest to handicraft. He also seeks inspiration at exhibitions that pique his interest. When asked who his favorite artists are, he quickly throws out a list of names: Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Ito Jakuchu and so on. He just can’t stop talking about art.

“I like creating things, be it music or art,” he said.

“The Diversity” will be held from Aug. 21 to Sept. 1 at Daikanyama Hillside Forum in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo. Visit www.art-obsession.co.jp/200 for more information.Speech

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