First published: Spring 2011
Shuji calmly enters the studio, with a broad smile on his face. He studies the objects before him with pleasure, tilting his head slightly. He casually checks a small blue box of drawing utensils marked ‘Shu-chan’s Box’. Then he slowly, ponderously, stoops over a sheet of paper and suddenly begins to draw heavy black shapes. This is his drawing style.
What are the black shapes? What will they become in the end? I keep watching them for a while, but they do not give me any idea at all. After 30 minutes or so, I finally come to understand: ‘Aha! He is drawing THIS motif.’ However, in this moment he has already started drawing the next mysterious shape. My puzzlement continues further.
The motif of his drawing is taken from the things in the welfare facility where he goes to work: ordinary, everyday items; plates, tools, plants, dictionaries, and so on. Those ordinary things are uniquely deformed in his drawings and turned into mysterious shapes beyond my imagination. These shapes, as he draws, become more solid as he settles in to the rhythm of the drawing.
Shuji began participating in my art club at his present welfare facility in 1992, when he was 18.
At first he only made drawings of the scoreboard of the Hanshin Tigers, the local baseball team that he had been an avid fan of since childhood. He would accurately draw all of the writing on the scoreboard, but then colour in the entire page with a black crayon.
He continued to make many of these drawings for about two years, until one day there happened to be a flowerpot with a wilted plant on his table, which he proceeded to draw of his own volition. The shape was captured from a distinctive perspective, producing a truly interesting drawing. Since then, he has continued to draw potted plants and other everyday items that are placed before him.