ISAO ARTIGAS ISHIKAWA
Getting acquainted with the artist ISAO was a memorable moment in our ongoing adventures in Barcelona. We were introduced to him in 2000 by the Catalan film producer Eva Baró who is married to ISAO and who collaborated with Jet Christiaanse on the magnum opus of director Peter Greenaway ‘the Tulse Luper Suitcases’.
ISAO is the prime example of a world citizen predestined to be an artist. He was born in Barcelona, son of a Japanese mother and a Catalan father, both of them artists. He grew up and studied in Paris. In Japan he familiarized himself with the art of calligraphy and at the moment he has his studio at the ‘Tallers Llorens Artigas’ near the mountain village of Gallifa. This is a rural artist centre with studios built in honour of his grandfather Llorens Artigas, the ceramist who worked very closely with Joan Miró on many of his ceramic projects.
ISAO’s parents live on the premises in the country house that formerly belonged to Miró. The world in which ISAO grew up and the settting of the multi-national arts centre are the perfect environment for an artist. Being the third generation of artists ISAO breathed art from the day he was born.
ISAO’s work captured us by its pure simplicity which showed a very close relationship to the part of the universe we relate to: nature and the childlike world. The same purity also returns in ISAO’s erotic work that is inspired by the art of Japanese prints.
ISAO forms part of our daily life. In the studio in Rotterdam as well as in the workspace in Gracia you can encounter ants, a butterfly, apes, birds, a panther and dragonflies, painted, drawn or sculpted by him.
He is also present in the ‘Estanteria II’, bookcase 2 in Gracia (see chapter interiors). I reserved two voids and invited two contrasting artists to make a work of art. ISAO saw the space as a birdcage. Four birds, each for every season, alternately occupy the cage. His idea was to change birds personally when a new season dawned.
During designing the new primary school ‘Bernardschool’ in the Dutch town Zoetermeer we realised that ISAO would be the perfect artist to contribute to our design. After a thorough selection procedure the municipal art commission made us happy: they chose ISAO to create the artwork for the school. His proposal to make a cloud of butterflies as a reference to the radical transformation that children experience when they grow up and eventually leave their safe environment, inspired the school board so much that at the opening of the school its name was changed into ‘de Jacobsvlinder’, Dutch for ‘Cinnabar moth’ school. Isao painted butterflies with gold on black tiles and baked them in the ovens of Gallifa and as the culmination he personally installed on the roof a swaying flock of gold colored butterflies, made in Gallifa.