Contemporary Visual Artist, Toronto
The opportunity to explore Japanese culture with an immersion into four months of Japanese life not only influenced the actual production of my artwork, but many of the trends and art that I witnessed while there still resonate with me decades later.
Mr. Belcher spent 4 months in 1997 in Japan, splitting his research time between Tokyo and Kyoto, with weekends spent in Osaka.
I researched traditional and historical Japanese culture with a dedicated concentration of study on Japanese contemporary art and pop culture from the 1960s through the 1990s.
This was before the possibility to direct research of Japanese art & culture through internet and Google, so the real-life boots-on-ground concentrated investigation was an invaluable investment to my knowledge bank.
I had held an constant independent study of Japanese culture since my teenage years, and had enrolled in four levels of Japanese language classes before receiving the fellowship. The opportunity to explore Japanese culture with an immersion into four months of Japanese life not only influenced the actual production of my artwork, but many of the trends and art that I witnessed while there still resonate with me decades later.
So many of the things I discovered and witnessed from those four months in Japan have cemented in my memory and remain influential on my creativity up to this present day.
Making friends with so many different Japanese people at the galleries and nightclubs was certainly the most valuable experience. The most unique memory was the discovery of BAPE* at the unmarked Nowhere building in Harajuku. That I was able to enjoy ramen for lunch and sashimi for dinner almost everyday for four months is a bliss I will never soon forget.
But perhaps if I had to select one single memory from so many fond experiences, I would have to say that my weekly hikes in the cedar forests outside of Kurama-dera Temple are what I miss the most.
*A Bathing Ape – a Japanese clothing brand
Mr. Belcher has been an active artist for nearly four decades. A detailed account of his work can be found on his website and archive at balanelcher.com.
Not only did the fellowship in 1997 inform my immediate art production upon my return to Canada, but I was able to proudly exhibit those series of artworks in 1999 with a solo exhibition at the Japan Foundation in Toronto.
Still to this present day, those substantial bodies of works elicit the most favourable of responses from those who were fortunate to visit the Japan Foundation exhibition.
I have been very fortunate to continue the making of my work and to continue exhibiting at some of the world’s most vital galleries. A career highlight for me has been a solo exhibition in 2017 at Le Consortium in Dijon, where the curators assigned one building’s eight galleries exclusively for an exhaustive display of my ceramic Jpeg multiple edition, for an extended period of nine months in celebration of the institution’s 40th anniversary.