Live Painter: Dragon76

When does a hobby become a way of life? There’s probably no particular moment; it’s a long road, somewhere along the way of which an individual suddenly realizes: this is what I want to do, and I’m doing it. Fujita Satoshi (aka “Dragon76”) admits that live painting wasn’t something he aspired to, “It was just a hobby.” But then about 15 years ago, he was asked to do live graffiti.

Most people still aren’t familiar with “live painting,” but go to just about any outdoor music festival in Japan—or to concerts of the many participating bands—and you are almost certain to see some canvases tacked up and painters working them while the music plays and the crowds dance. At Yokohama’s Greenroom music festival, in fact, there was a whole row of them. Some of the artists are admittedly amateur, but a few of them—Dragon76 included—are seriously talented. You could also say professional. Their paintings are works of art infused with the vibe of the concert, and invitations to paint come regularly. Part of the appreciation of these paintings is watching them be created.

Dragon76 says that the live graffiti didn’t work out well. Spray painting inside clubs, for example, is problematic because of all the fumes spreading. He switched to brush painting and developed some techniques that imitate graffiti—such as blowing on his brush close to the canvas to create a spray effect. He also uses the base of his paint cans to paint perfect curves. His paintings combine the chaos of spray with the geometry of lines and circles.

Styles of most great artists change, though, and Dragon76 is no exception. Some live painters, like Gravity Free, admit that they try to avoid looking too much at the work of others, so that their own style is not too much influenced, but Dragon76 says, “I want to see all of them. I want to try new things.” He collaborates with other artists to achieve new styles sometimes. And, of course, the music changes the composition, too.

Grassroots near Yokohama Station currently hosts Dragon76 about once a month. He paints as the DJ spins tunes in the background. It’s a laid-back affair where you can relax and enjoy watching the painting come alive. At concerts, the music is main stage and attracts much of your attention.

Dragon76 moved from Osaka to Yokohama about seven years ago. “I had thought about Tokyo, but it’s too expensive and crowded. I wanted to live where there was some space. I looked around and discovered Yokohama.” The perfect town—an art town—for an emerging artist. It seems more and more people are discovering Dragon76. He has lost count, but figures he had nearly 50 events in 2010, seven in the month of December alone.

His work also takes him overseas. He has done live paintings in London (3 times), Birmingham, Liverpool, Ibiza, New York and Cuba, the latter during his tenure on Peace Boat. In January, he travels to South Africa to paint at the party of the daughter of Nelson Mandela! Apparently, a picture of one of his paintings that was published in a black culture magazine in England caught the attention of the party’s organizer.

So what happens to all these paintings? He tries to sell many of the canvases, but admits that it is generally tough (some of his paintings for purchase are on display at Grassroots). Or, they take on a new life. “If I don’t like what I’ve done, I’ll roll the canvas up and rework it at the next show, either adding things or completely painting over it.”

But with live paintings, maybe the final piece is never complete. Inspired by music, they often seem like physical memories of the show. For complete appreciation, experience the event itself.


「ライブペインティング」という言葉には馴染みの無い人も多いかもしれないが、日本でも、屋外の音楽フェスやコンサートへ出かけてみれば、バンドが演奏し観客がダンスするライブ会場で、キャンバスに向かって絵を描いているアーティストたちがいる光景を目にするだろう。横浜で開催されたGreenroom Festivalには、ライブペインティングのアーティストが一堂に会していた。明らかなアマチュアもいたが、Dragon76を含めて才能豊かなプロと呼ぶべきアーティストも多数集まっていた。彼らが描くのはコンサートのバイブが込められた芸術作品であり、同時に彼らが定期的にライブに招かれるための招待状でもある。これらのペインティングに対する評価が、彼らの制作の助けにもなっている。


多くの偉大なアーティストの作風は変わっていくものだが、Dragon76も例外ではない。Gravity freeのようなライブ・ペインターは、他のアーティストの影響を受けず独自のスタイルを大切にするために、他の人の作品をじっくり見過ぎないようにすると話してくれたことがある。しかしDragon76は言う、「皆の作品の全部を見たいね。新しいことに挑戦したいんだ。」新しいスタイルを得るために、時には他のアーティストたちと協調して取り組む。もちろん、音楽に影響を受けることだってある。






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