The good news is that since I last wrote about the wonderfully expressive and brilliantly realized illustrations of Tadahiro Uesugi back in 2005, many more examples of his work have been added to his web site.
The bad news is that the site is still in frames and as awkward as ever to navigate.
The domain name is simply a pointer to his original site, the main page of which is not very helpful for those who don’t speak Japanese; but you will find the almost hidden main navigation in the gray bar at the very bottom of the window. The Illustration section is the one of most interest.
Once there you must navigate by way of thumbnail images in a frame at left, that display the images in the main window at right. What isn’t clear at first is that the last image in the row of thumbnails is actually a link to the next page of thumbnails. The gallery continues this way for many pages.
However clunky the navigation may be, clicking through page after page will reward you with the wonders of Uesugi’s beautiful, spare and wonderfully composed images.
Many are simple figures composed of flat areas of color, often almost silhouettes; but my favorites are those in which his figures are presented in backgrounds that at times appear more heavily rendered than the figures; but on inspection are also composed of flat areas of color, occasionally with judicious applications of texture or pattern.
Uesugi has an astonishing command of design and color, and can pull light filled cityscapes out of an arrangement of geometric planes.
I think that many artists who might not initially find similarities with their own work would benefit from a second look. Not just illustrators and comics artists and animators, but landscape painters whose work is much more “rendered”.
Uesugi frequently manages to imbue starkly flat designed areas with a remarkable sense of atmospheric realism, simply with his astute choice of appropriate colors.
There may be texture, but there is no rendering, no modeling, no attempt to render form with anything but flat planes of color and patterns of shadow.
His use of shadow, in fact, is one of my favorite aspects of Uesugi’s work, a marvelous evocation of light told with a minimum of brushwork and complication.
Here would be a basis from which artists with more traditional and highly rendered styles might aspire to work. Imagine if you could start with paintings this simple but this complete before applying your more rendered style.
This is abstraction, not meaning “non-representational”, but abstraction in the truest sense, meaning to distill the essence of something into a simpler form.