Let us push the doors of a universe tinged with fantastic, whose energy carries us along and the mystical breath captivates us. The artist Kou stages a pantheon of youkai, these supernatural creatures from Japanese mythology and folklore, who exert an inexhaustible power of fascination.
Welcome in a parallel universe steeped in ancient Japanese beliefs. Illustrator Kou-7684 draws its inspiration from myths and legends often from Shintoism. He puts at the heart of his work the struggles of youkai bursting with energy. The Youkai (妖怪), whose term literally means “mysterious apparitions”, are ghostly spirits, specters sometimes evil, sometimes benevolent, cruel or facetious, which take the form of monsters, creatures and demons. While their anatomy is often somewhat human, the youkai can sometimes take on the appearance of animals. Anyway, the centuries do not blur their power of fascination, and these humanoids still haunt contemporary popular and urban culture.
The youkai come to life under Kou’s fine pencil lines, but the line is nonetheless firm. The features draw looks of fury and positions of determination. As for the chromatic palette, itself expresses the duality, often central theme of the illustration. The chromatic circle thus arbitrates a fight between complementary colors: orange and blue-green, burgundy red and mint green.
Let’s take a look at these youkai closer. They must their destructive or creative power to impressive muscles which gives them demonic airs or demigods – one could not say. Whatever nature it is, everything in the drawing expresses their vigor: the curvatures of lines which express the amplitude of the movements, eyes bulging with anger, exuberant curly hair that fly in the wind, as if the elements themselves were working in the service of these supernatural creatures. If the youkai strike a pose in demonstrations of force, the images also suggest their spiritual powers.
Kou explores the Japanese pantheon of youkai, each with its own attributes. Here we see a oni (鬼) wearing horns, all sharp claws and size canines out; the, Amabie (ア マ ビ エ), legendary creature with bird’s beak and fish scales. In times of pandemic, this saving siren, renowned for its protective virtues against epidemics, has gone viral on social media. Other illustrations represent gashadokuro (が し ゃ ど く ろ), blood hungry skeletons. Darumas are also present, signs of luck and prosperity, bearers of hopes of wish fulfillment.
Japanese artist orchestra the meeting of youkai and with humans. The former threaten, attack and take hostage the latter, innocent young people, often slender young girls. However, in Kou’s world, the frail silhouettes of young girls are not synonymous with weakness, because Cyclopean demons and other gargantuan monsters are often found submissive or tamed. In this imagery, the quiet strength, poise, and serenity of the young women outweigh the anger and demonic power of the young women. youkai.
Kou grew up with a pencil in his hand. He made his first sketches when entering college, before entering a specialized high school and then an art school. He distinguished himself for his oil paintings of the purest Japanese spirit, before moving on to illustration on a tablet thanks to the mobile drawing application ibisPaint. Kou then drew his inspiration from the world of manga, in particular with the mangaka Akira Toriyama, creator of Dragon ball, and in the series One piece. The work of comic book illustrator Katsuya Terada also marked his stroke and lines, his style of composition and his characters.
New generation artist, Kou is surfing digital art today. He promotes his work on social networks (Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest…). Thanks to the support of his followers, he benefits from inspiring interactivity with his audience and fruitful exchanges. Also exhibiting his work on digital art galleries, Kou is part of the lineage of a Japanese culture of manga andanime which is increasingly successful internationally. His works are even declined in derivative products presented on marketplaces and specialized sites.
Man’s vulnerability and his powerlessness in the face of natural phenomena fascinate and question the artist who confronts them with formidable creatures. Kou builds and signs with bio a pictorial chaos that owes nothing to chance, where everything is a struggle of mystical forces, dynamics and aesthetics of movements.