3-D Goldfish Art: Wait, Those Are PAINTINGS?

Doth my eyes deceive me?

Riusuke Fukahori paints 3-D goldfish so real you can’t believe they’re not wriggling. And I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but the exhibit of his work going on RIGHT NOW at the Hiratsuka Museum of Art is so astounding, that in real life, the fish look more real than in the photos.

In case you doubt me, here’s one up close, and it STILL looks so real I was tempted to shake a few flakes of smelly fish food into the container!

His 3-D works use real buckets, bowls and other containers to hold the clear resin on which he paints the fish art.

Paintings or sculpture? Hard to say!

Excuse me, can we just see this ripply bit with the swimming goldfish and fallen leaves up close?

But how the heckin’ heck does he do it? According to the video showing at the exhibition, the fish are built up slice by slice, layer by layer, on paper-thin consecutive pours of clear resin. I watched him do it in the video, and I’m still UTTERLY boggled!

The main installation in this exhibit is a new work, the “shop” of an old-fashioned goldfish breeder…

It’s a life-sized booth, with so many delightful details, I had to stand there with my mouth hanging open for a good thirty minutes

I’d just been to the Edogawa Goldfish Festival and seen this REAL bucket of goldfish for sale…

…so you can imagine how astounded I was by how lifelike this one is!

I also recognized the trays of the ordinary goldfish children catch at summer festivals for pets…

…and resonated with the owner’s messy desk, complete with odd toys and coffee dregs

And of course I had to closely inspect the bags of fish awaiting pick-up by their new owners, which are joined by exotically realistic fantasy creatures never seen in any aquarium

But that’s not all!

Fukahori also paints gorgeous goldfish on canvas, much larger than life

And because this exhibition is his life’s-work-to-date retrospective, nearly everything he’s painted is on display in the adjoining galleries (where photos are not permitted, so these are from the exhibition catalog).

Starting with the piece that first made him famous…

…we also see how he began to play with movement of both the fish and the container

He started out using sake boxes as fishbowls…

…but soon moved on to “found” containers that are utterly delightful

From there, he moved into large-scale pieces, and put goldfish in ever-more-surprising (and delightful) places

His most poignant work is the pieces he made for survivors of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. This is one of them – a paintbrush bucket owned by Yuna Kimura, a little girl who was missing for six years before her father finally discovered her remains and was able to move on. Fukahori says he’d been suffering from the artists’ version of writers block for two years before the tsunami happened, but bringing comfort and hope again to the families that had lost children gave him renewed purpose and inspiration

These pieces at the entrance led me to hope we could procure these delightful bed linens and t-shirts for ourselves, but sadly, they’re one-of-a-kind art too. The gift shop does have nice stuff with goldfish on it, though, so definitely check it out on your way out!

This isn’t my first Riusuke Fukahori rodeo – I’ve been jonesing for this giant show ever since being astounded by an earlier exhibit of his art in Yokohama a couple of years ago. I’m mourning his statement that he wants to move on from goldfish, but can’t help being excited to see what he does next!

When she can tear herself away from the fishies, Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo

“A genuinely gripping crime thriller which wrong-foots and perplexes the reader throughout, drawing us in emotionally . . . Highly recommended.” –Raven Crime Reads

It’s been ten years since his mother never made it home, but now Detective Kenji Nakamura’s life is about to unravel…Read more