Inspired by the paintings of Rembrant, Keita Morimoto crafts narratives with light and darkness

Originally from Osaka, Keita found himself leaving his hometown at only 16. After failing his high school entrance exam, the artist ended up convincing his parents that allowing him to study abroad would be a better investment than sending him to private school. Moving to Toronto and attending a Canadian high school was where Keita found himself learning about North American and European art history. After living and working in Toronto for 15 years, a year ago Keita made the decision to move to Tokyo, where he now has a studio and draws inspiration for his work.

When sourcing people and places to paint, Keita likes to rely on a degree of “randomness”. Enjoying “the process of serendipitous encounters”, Keita generally paints people he knows, who then connect him to people they know, creating a loose sense of interpersonal connection throughout his pieces. This is also replicated in the way he finds his locations, often coming across them upon his strolls around different neighborhoods. And certainly, this feeling of having simply happened upon is evident throughout the series. In one of his favorite pieces from the series, Searching for Home, Keita feels to “fully encapsulate the main exhibition idea of ​​ordinary and magical”. Showing two people atop a flight of stairs off a side street, the way in which the subjects are captured – perhaps in the midst of searching for direction, or engaged in loose conversation – alongside the painting’s composition give the impression of a chance encounter. “The place is anonymous and it could be anywhere,” Keita adds, “but it also feels familiar, at least to me.”

Composition is also another element the artist pays close attention to, gaining inspiration from his love of films and animation. Utilizing both their use of “strategic close-ups” as well as “panned out panoramic scenes”, Keita used differing compositions in order to “create specific moments of emotion”. With wide angle shots of silent, far away couples contrasted with close ups of single people, looking into the distance, the series perfectly captures subtle, uncertain emotions, with a powerful cinematic quality.

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