Take a closer look at the work of Riusuke Fukahori before you dismiss them– these are, in fact, not real goldfish that have been embalmed in plastic. The Japanese artist creates the illusion of goldfish with an amazing technique: hundreds, if not thousands of layers of resin and paint are painted on top of one another, and the result is a near-perfect reproduction of goldfish all swimming endlessly.

Goldfish in particular have a strong association with childhood festivals in the Japanese consciousness (I myself remember paying money to “fish” them out of buckets and inflatable swimming pools in Taiwan night markets), and the painting/sculptures are meant to evoke those emotions. Spoon and Tamago does a great translation of how this inspired the artist, which I’ve copied below:

But for artist Riusuke Fukahori, the goldfish was not just a relic of long-lost childhood. As he painfully lay in his room one night, struggling and suffering, about to give up on his art, he looked over and saw a goldfish. His neglected fish of 7 years sputtered about in a cesspool of mold and feces – a common fate endured by most festival souvenirs.

Fukahori felt a shiver run down his spine. What he suddenly saw was a beautiful animal, glowing in bright red, living and surviving. The artist pulled out his paint and set to work, immediately triggering some sort of chemical reaction in his brain. Fukahori had looked far and wide – in Europe, the U.S. and Japan – for his muse. But in an instantaneous form of enlightenment he knew that all along it was right there in his room, inside that dirty fish tank. The goldfish, writes Fukahori, was my salvation.

Fukahori uses that term, “Goldfish Salvation,” to describe his pieces, and apparently if you rearrange the Japanese kanji of Kingyo-sukui (金魚すくい), the festivities of goldfish scooping, it can also be read as 金魚救い- goldfish salvation.

And if you want a clearer picture of how he created these specific pieces, check out the video below:

This is really mind-boggling work– the 3D work is being executed in a 2D medium, with the precision and talent of someone who is has to be capable at handling both forms of art. Amazing, amazing, amazing. [Via Spoon and Tamago, photos via Dominic Alves.]

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