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AUTHORS IN PIXEL ART (II): TOYOI YUUTA

2022-01-12 00:00:00

 The Last and First Authors in Pixel Art dealt with the life and work of Ben ChandlerThis author, of Australian origin, was characterized by the development of classic graphic adventures, understanding classics as those made in low resolution, with two-dimensional backgrounds and animations, a point and click interface and the use of pixel art bilderToday, of all these elements we are going to choose only one: pixel art . The protagonist of this chapter does not make video games (that we know of), but only dedicates himself to developing small scenes without much pretense. He responds to the nickname of 1041uuu and his name is Toyoi YuutaOf Japanese origin, this artist develops all his talent in small daily Japanese scenes that do not occupy more than a mega in size .

For this second chapter I choose Yuuta for three reasons. The first, the evident quality of his creations: in GIF format, Yuuta creates small live scenes using a visual technique that comes directly from video games . The second reason is because of his artistic exclusivity: he does not make video games, but he does not lend his art to any development, he simply dedicates himself to painting scenes, like any other pictorial artist, only that instead of using brushes he uses small pixels . Finally, the third reason is linked to the previous one, Yuuta has managed to achieve a truly outstanding position with that union between the traditional Japanese stamp and new technologiesWe could summarize Yuuta's style as the evolution of traditional Japanese folk art.

Yuuta is a Japanese animation professional specialized in the video category and an important aspect is his own residence, Tokyo. These two facts are especially vital since they condition all his work. His work as an audiovisual animator takes him away from the technical obligations in the development of videogames, from which he only extracts what interests him: pixel art in audiovisual format, moving images without any type of interaction by the consumer. His life in the Japanese capital allows him to develop and show the duplicity of character that identifies modern Japan: between technology and tradition.In his illustrations we can see, on the one hand, really ordinary traditional scenarios, such as a woman watering her plants or a man sitting at the bar of a bar, to later move on to others that are totally avant-garde that use the manga aesthetic, such as a girl sitting on top of a speaker tower alive. We know little else about Yuuta, always averse to social exposure and interviews.


However, what we do know is his work and brief walks through his accounts on Tumblr,  Instagram and a fairly neglected Google+ are enough for us. At least the public work, the one that we know, can be described in two words: simplicity and everyday life. They may seem like two synonymous words, but in essence they differ completely. With simplicity we refer to its style of discrete lines where the orthogonal sense of the composition predominates.: characters far from the Japanese canon and neighbors of the western tradition with oriental reminiscences. His work is covered in pastel colors and soft and organic movements, where the GIF format condemns them to a perfectly linked perpetual motion. The viewer can never discern where the action begins and ends. Everyday life appears in his themes, Yuuta's paintings are everyday looks : a man smoking while looking at the horizon, a girl waiting for the train to arrive, a sunset and a sunrise, a young woman and her dog ... All of them are not the postcards that pixel art creators have us used to, in which bombastic fantasy or science fiction themes predominate. In Yuuta everything is close, everything is common and this is what makes it special.

The most common comparison is found in Edward Hooper . The American artist has gone down in history for developing a unique and individual style born from the convergence of different influences, although his work is closely consistent with manners. Like Yuuta, all his scenes are little pills of everyday life in the United States of the first half of the 20th century. In fact, one of his most famous works, Nighthawk , where some men drink in a cafeteria while the night surrounds them, is honored by Yuuta, remember? The one in which a man rests at the bar of a noodle bar late in the morning. Hooper is not the only western influence of the Japanese artist, we find others such as, for example, Monet, obvious by the choice of pastel colors, simple compositions, themes and the influence of light, where there is a strong contrast between shadows and lights.

Leaving the purely pictorial artistic currents aside and moving on to other more obvious western influences, Yuuta draws inspiration from the video games of the early 90s and especially those born under the hegemony of 8-bits . On the western side we can look at a crucial influence, the pixel art developed by companies such as LucasArts or Sierra where, due to the use of blues, the original Monkey Island (LucasArts, 1990) stands out and, above all, Indiana Jones & The Fate of Atlantis  (LucasArts, 1992).


For its part, on the eastern side it gathers three influences: pictorial, cinematographic and video games. The first of them, the most complex, has its roots in the Meijo period of the history of Japan, in which the country breaks with its policy of international isolation and opens up to the rest of the world in a very strong westernization movement. At this time, Japan sent artists, scientists and students to Europe to learn from European technology and then apply it back, but they also sent them to soak up the new artistic currents that were being born in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. . These artists, already in Japan, developed a new type of art where Japanese tradition was fused with European innovation. This adaptation of the European artistic currents aroused in Japan a movement of rejection and support for the tradition, which served as a counterweight to the balance. The result was a kind of art halfway between the Japanese and the European. However, to explain Yuuta's work, two aspects are important: first, the introduction of new pictorial techniques such asimpressionism or pointillism , great-grandfathers of pixel art , and, later, the introduction of new scenes of the daily life of the inhabitants of the towns and cities far from the social elites.

The next major influence for Yuuta is the artistic explosion that followed World War II. Japan was forced by the US to open up permanently to the rest of the world. All the artistic movements of the second half of the 20th century were strongly inserted in Japan, among them, one called to change the artistic essence from its roots: pop art . In Japan, pop art had its own essence and was based, almost entirely, on anime and Japanese tradition, converging in a unique style that we can admire, for example, in the works of Studio Ghibli, where anime , in many times, it is part of the traditional Japanese print in films like My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988).

With the Ghibli studio we come to another great Yuuta reference. In all the images and scenes of the Japanese you breathe the air of Mr. Hayao Miyazaki and company . In Miyazaki's filmography, simple themes are dealt with where the main characters, in a great majority, are children or young people. In all the films, the hegemony of color falls on pastel tones and, if we put the fantastic elements aside, the themes are everyday and traditional. In the same way, the compositions are simple, beautiful and depart from the baroque style of other anime works The comparison and parallelism are more than evident.

And it is that manga, in its most generalist vision, is a fundamental pillar for all of Yuuta's work, as are Japanese video games. In the first works uploaded to Tumblr we can see that the video-play influence is stronger, and somewhat less in the more recent works . In his early drawings, the main characters' eyes are exaggeratedly large and color is not used realistically, but is intentionally added to highlight some element of the structure. In addition, in general, the photos have a fantastic theme and also appear all the classic anime costume characteristics, such as the recurring schoolgirl outfits.

Yuuta's work is the maximum exponent of an increasingly strong movement, pixelism as a pictorial style outside the video game . Within Spain we have the work of Octavi Navarro (Pixel Huh), highly recommended and that will soon appear on these pages. Both are part of a very interesting current, an artistic style rooted in video games, but which escapes their interaction . Ultimately, Yuuta's work is inserted within the convergence between western and eastern influences to give rise to an original and exceptional work that places him at the top of pixel art authors.

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