⟨ Unexpected Welcome ⟩

A Man Can’t Fly Anymore

Tetsuya Ishida

Texts / Ron Lam
Photos Courtesy of / TETSU Inc.
Translation / Iris Heung

「在牛肉飯店用餐時,我感到自己如同在油站中加油的汽車一樣。要說理由,就是因為比起用餐,那更像是燃料補給。」畫家石田徹也在自己的創作筆記裡,寫下了他創作〈燃料補給般的食事〉時的想法。

在〈燃料補給般的食事〉中,三名店員木無表情,長著同一個面孔,穿著同一樣的衣服,手執著燃油槍,將之塞進吧桌前的客人嘴裡。我們看不到客人的樣貎與表情,只見他們的動態與外型也是大同小異的。說不定他們補充能源後,便會分道揚鑣,雖然在不同的地方裡,卻扮演著相同的機器。


這幅畫就跟石田徹也其他作品一樣,充滿了對城市生活的不安、矛盾與困惑。在〈飛不起來的人〉裡,畫中人與飛機連成一體,舉起雙手似是要展翅高飛,但螺旋掌卻紋風不動,稍作細看,才發現飛機本是連著金屬支架——它不過是遊樂場裡的機動遊器,是飛不起來的飛機。〈居酒屋發〉之中,書中三個西裝筆挺的人物,滿面通紅,臉露出了迷醉的笑容,似乎是酒喝多了。他們所在之處,是名為「啤酒」的狹小火車,在那擠迫的世界裡,他們屈曲著身體,將自己硬塞進車廂內,縱使壓迫,他們卻仍昏昏欲睡,舒坦滿足。石田徹也筆下的世界,人們為了討生活,化身為推動社會運作的一顆齒輪,沒有個性,也不需要個性,只是推動社會這台大機器的零件。

現時石田徹也雖然被公認為畫家,然而這也是他死後才得到的頭銜。1973年生於靜岡縣燒津市的他,大學時入讀武藏野美術大學的視覺傳播設計系,雖然是商業創作的學科,但石田徹也看來並沒有太大意慾投身社會。大學時的就識活動之中,也只應徵了一家設計公司,沒被採用,就開始從事作畫,決心成為畫家。然而於2005年,就在他剛跟畫廊簽約不久後,正要步向專業畫家之路,便因為交通意外而過世,享年32歲。

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。

石田徹也英年早逝,關於他的記載並不多,也找不到任何關於他作畫時的心境的文字記錄,不過,畫作之中對現世社會的絕望、內心的壓抑強而有力,直達人心,在親睹原作後,沉重的心情久久不退。在價值觀太過僵化的社會裡,人們怎樣才能自由地飛起來?

“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?