石田徹也生前曾獲得多個藝術奬項，包括JACA日本視覺藝術展及Vision Of Contemporary Art等。作品能賣出，也替雜誌《Number》等繪畫插畫，卻不足以應附生活，因此他一邊做著雜工一邊作畫，生活過得甚是艱苦。日本SBS電視台於2007年時製作了關於石田徹也的電視節目，訪問了他的父親。他的父親提到，石田徹也拒絕父母的金錢資助，或許是因為若不把自己推向苦痛的環境之中，就無法繪出如此深刻的作品。
“When having a bowl of rice with beef in a restaurant, I feel myself like a car getting refueled at a gas station. If I had to explain my thoughts, I would say the action is more like taking in fuel than food.” This, is the idea behind the painting Having a Meal Like Refuelling as written by Tetsuya Ishida in his artist notes.
Having a Meal Like Refuelling illustrates three expressionless kitchen staff sharing the same facial feature, wearing the same clothes, and injecting the same looking nozzles into the mouths of three customers in a row. The customers’ faces are not visible to the viewer, but from their backs, one has a feeling that they are alike in gesture and build. Perhaps after getting refueled, these men would go separate ways to perform the same machine like duty at different spots.
There is a common theme among Ishida’s works — the anxiety, confusion, and crisis of living in a metropolis. In A Man Can’t Fly Anymore is a man-plane cyborg; while the man widely opens his arm ready to fly, the propeller remains fixed. Actually, a closer look would reveal the fact that the airplane is attached to a metallic rack; it is therefore just an airplane-shaped attraction in an amusement park. The three men wearing suits in From an Izakaya are stuck in a train called “MALTS”. From their blushing faces and drunk smiles, it is rather obvious that these men had a considerable amount of drinks. The train is too small for them to fit in, they are, however, not at all resisting the confined space; to be more precise, they look so comfortable as if they would fall asleep at any minute. Human beings are portrayed as featureless, lack of personality objects that are benumbed by surviving everyday life, and ended up being merely parts of the machine called “society”.
Tetsuya Ishida never had a chance to be recognized as an artist when he was alive. Born in 1973 in Yaizu of Shizuoka Prefecture, Ishida studied visual communications design at Musashino Art University. Although it is a comparatively commercial field of study, Ishida was never keen on being part of the business market. Upon graduation, he applied for a design firm and didn’t get hired. Since then, he became active in drawing and was determined to become a painter. Unfortunately, in the year 2005, soon after he signed a contract with a gallery and seemingly took a step ahead towards his dream of being a full-time painter, he was accidentally killed by a train in the age of 32.
During his days, Ishida was awarded by many art institutions including JACA Japanese Visual Art Exhibition and Vision Of Contemporary Art. His works were sold, and the artist was invited to illustrate for Number and other magazines, the income from his artworks was not enough to sustain his living. He had to do different mini-jobs alongside, life was not easy. In 2007, the Japanese broadcaster SBS produced a documentary on Tetsuya Ishida and interviewed Ishida’s father. According to his father, Ishida always refused financial support from the family; a tough life was perhaps what drove Ishida to create artworks that cast such an overwhelming impact.
There are not many records on this artist who died at a young age, it is as well almost impossible to obtain documentation that reveals his thoughts during the creative process. However, this does not affect how great the impact is when seeing the despair and oppression as portrayed in his paintings. How can a person fly freely in a society bound by rigid sets of values?