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Great works of art are often born out of great suffering. So is  Manabu Ikeda's monumental work "Rebirth," his 13-foot-by-10-foot masterpiece that the artist spent three and a half years working on, ten hours a day. This is Ikeda's largest work to date, and is the Japanese artist's response to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Ikeda began work in July 2013 in the basement studio of the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, Wisconsin, as part of an artist-in-residence program. The finished work, known as "Rebirth," is a powerful, emotional painting full of detail drawn from Ikeda's imagination.

It visually expresses the struggle between humans and nature, a theme that has historically been at the core of Japanese art. As a society that has repeatedly experienced natural disasters throughout its history, yet has rebuilt itself from the ashes of tragedy, this work is a tribute to a nation that rises above conflict with hope for a better future. . The work is constructed in the center of the panel, where a large tree precariously falls into the sea and cherry blossoms turn into flowers, which are actually tents, temporary shelter after a storm. 

The bottom of the piece depicts mass destruction, but if you look closely you can see people trying to survive by using the carcass of the plane to plant vegetables and build houses on top of trees. Ikeda primarily uses pen and acrylic ink to focus on specific areas of a panel at a time  to construct a narrative. “My goal is to faithfully express my worldview in my work, but I purposely avoid detailed depictions,” he explains.

"Because when you look at things, you see the details, not the whole. That's why I found pen and ink to be the best tools to express my point of view." Typically, he uses his In a day he is working at a rate of 4 square inches, but the speed is slowing down. , when you temporarily lose the use of your dominant hand due to a skiing accident. Anxious about finishing his work by the deadline, he practiced drawing with his left hand  after a few short practices and continued his work.

Although the work  primarily revolves around disaster recovery, the artist tried to inject humour wherever possible. If you have a keen eye, you'll spot hints of Madison, Wisconsin in the pieces, from the hardware store to the local Taco car wash. Apart from humour, these touches give the work a universal message. Mr. Ikeda reminds us that this tragedy is not limited to Japan, and asks us to consider our own reactions if such violence occurs close to home. Colour also plays an important role in magnificent paintings. White stripes flutter throughout the composition, representing the souls of those who have left us and those yet to be born, emphasising the cyclical nature of life. Some tents are  black or white, symbolically indicating the life or death of those inside. Meanwhile, the yellow centre of the chosen flower represents a newborn child surrounded by parents who will raise them out of this mess. Small  uncoloured pieces in the shape of people or animals are equally effective. There are two reasons for this decision. "I don't want to impose colours or  decide on a character by drawing a person," Ikeda reveals. “I also want people to be free to imagine  what they want to put into these people and the spaces they enter.” 

Rebirth's detailed complexity  never overwhelms its emotional impact. The power that artists bring to their work comes to the fore, and you can't help but be moved by the  emotion  Ikeda expressed when he first saw his masterpiece in the Clayton Adams short film displayed on the  museum wall. . You can see it below.

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