On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake hit Japan, causing a tsunami, which then lead to a massive explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Today, Japanese citizens are still facing the social, environmental, and political repercussions of the catastrophic event, which is now known as “311.”
Last month at Frieze London, Perrotin presented a solo showing of the artist MADSAKI, who was in Japan during the 311 disaster. Recalling the day as being like a nightmare that would surely end his life, the artist created his own interpretation of the happenings using his unique spray paint method. The show included scenes like the a snapshot of a flame-engulfed power plant, a blue horizon with a great, dark mushroom cloud, as well as a portrait of the artist and his family.
After the London presentation, Whitewall caught up with MADSAKI to learn more about the experiences that inspired the works on view, .
WHITEWALL: Can you share your personal experience of the earthquake on March 11, 2011?
MADSAKI: I really thought I was going to die. I’ve never so closely faced death. The house was shaking to the point of collapsing: I couldn’t walk or stay standing. It was like being totally wasted and thrown onto a rodeo horse for 5 minutes. My wife was screaming, holding on to a TV that was just about to get slammed on the floor. My 6-month old daughter was sitting on the floor, smiling, enjoying the violent death shake. Our son was in kindergarten at the time, I was there hoping he was still alive. When I saw the nuclear power plant blow up into pieces on the TV, the whole chaos jumped to the next level.
WW: What made you want to create works around this tragic event?
M: I just needed to let it out of my system.
WW: How did this event change the way you work?
M: It made me want to paint as much as possible before I leave this planet.
WW: Can you tell us about some of the imagined landscapes you’ve created?
M: It was like painting my nightmares; nightmares you really don’t want to experience in real life. It’s detailed while at the same time it’s kind of out of focuse, like a dreamscape. Every nightmare has an abrupt ending. Waking up sweating and realizing it was only a dream. But this time, it wasn’t. In real life there was only hope to grab onto.
WW: Tell us about the painting featuring your family.
M: It’s a snapshot taken at Disneyland in Tokyo a few years after 3.11.