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SKOLOCT RISING," an art show for SKOLOCT by Tsuyoshi Nakano of NGAP (a design team that created a huge movement in the 1990s) will be held at DAYZ starting Sunday, December 20. For the event, we visited his studio in Tokyo and talked to him about stories from the heyday of Urahara Culture and his attitude towards creation.

The spearhead of expression, in search of freedom.

Harajuku, the center of culture in Tokyo, is now attracting attention from all over the world. Many people from Japan and abroad visit, and it is no longer unusual to see celebrities, artists, and various other creators wearing brands from Harajuku, Tokyo, nor is it abnormal to see collaborations between these brands and overseas-based brands. A BATHING APE, UNDERCOVER, NEIGHBORHOOD, and WTAPS are just a few of the brands that were born in Harajuku, and the unmistakable movement created by these brands and the people around them is known as "Urahara Culture”. These brands and the people around them have created a movement that supports Urahara Culture down to the core.

This movement, which gained momentum in the 1990s, led to the birth of representative brands and even to their predecessors. This, in turn, led to Harajuku being lined with popular stores, attracting people, and generating creative energy. As the number of brands grew, so did the people who created the places and spaces, and the artists who decorated them. NAKANO Tsuyoshi, the creator of SKOLOCT, is a central figure in this trend. Nakano, who started his career as a painter with the painting group NGAP, was an essential figure in the culture movement of the time; he was responsible for the painting and architectural designs of numerous stores, including NOWHERE, the predecessor to A Bathing Ape.

“I think I've always been an artist. But with NGAP, there was always the framework of ‘architecture,’ and even when I made clothes, I had to make them into workwear. I had to give up halfway through the project. I wanted to do something closer to art, and I wanted to move to a freer field with less restrictions. So, I started drawing characters as SKOLOCT. I've always had a vision of what I wanted to do since the days of NGAP, so what I'm doing now as SKOLOCT has been in my mind since then. I knew that I would continue to do what I'm doing now for a long time.”

Be true to your desires. Nakano says that this pure energy, which is an important drive to always be creative, was the very essence of the "Urahara Culture" of that time.

“The people who were in the middle of that movement were all around 20 years old at the time. We were all students at the Bunka Fashion College, or people who were about to graduate from school, so of course we had a lot of friends. Among them happened to be Jonio (Jun Takahashi), a designer named NIGO®, and a skater named Murajun (Jun Murakami). They were all very pure people who were serious about what they loved. The number of people was rather small at first, and it was a very simple gathering. But as the money started to flow, people started to gather. That's why some dirty bastards got caught up in it. Well, I think it's good. That's how the culture grew, and now the whole world is watching us. Even now, people from all over the world come to see us. I think it's interesting.”

Enduring thoughts support the driving force

For more than 30 years, Nakano has been experiencing the transformation of the history and culture of the Harajuku and Shibuya areas as an artist. Nowadays, in addition to the remarkable changes on the surface of the city due to urban development, the atmosphere, values, and culture covering the city itself have been changing on a deeper level. Having been in the midst of these changes, Nakano has come to realize two different things.

“Thirty years ago, you didn't have to make something that was ‘edgy’ in order for it to sell, but now, you have to make or do something that goes beyond that ‘edgy’ line to get ahead. Now if you don't make or do something that walks the line of ‘dangerous’, you won’t get anywhere. On the other hand, in terms of things that haven't changed, we still have a lot of teenagers and 20-somethings who come to our store. But I don't think their sensibilities have changed that much. It's that pure energy for their passions that I was talking about earlier. That's why I want to feel the same way as the younger generation: I accept these values. After all, times change, don't they? That's what the ‘season’ is. I want to be a part of that, and in extreme cases, even steal from it. I could be thinking, ‘this is edgy,’ but then fight back against it. This is what I meant when I first said I haven't changed. Just as I used to be so pure about my passions, I still feel the same way.”

Nakano has always been and still is pure in the sense that he feels good. This attitude keeps him true as an artist, attracts people who come into contact with art, and continues to create history and culture.

SKOLOCT RISING" is an art show born from similarities.

Shibuya and Harajuku, the epicenters of Tokyo culture, have moved with the passage of time, and have built up a history of ups and downs. In recent years, Shibuya in particular has seen the emergence of new landmark spots that have brought vitality to the city, and the cultural scene is about to enter its next phase. One of these spots is DAYZ, which opened this summer in Miyashita Park, a spot based on Tokyo culture that captures the trends of the times and transmits them from Tokyo to the world. The SKOLOCT art show "SKOLOCT RISING" will be held by Nakano, who is always creating in the "now" in a way that is linked to the efforts and vision of DAYZ.

Nakano's priority is to create updated works that reflect his current self: he isn’t focused on how to sell his works or how to get people to like them. He says that he has a strong desire to create something that has never been seen before by focusing entirely on making things. He also says, "Designers and artists should be like that. I don't think you can create ‘art’ without that viewpoint. But the times are changing in the direction they should be, and I'm pretty happy about that. There has to be something beyond just words, right? Something between the truth and the lies. I think that's what has led to my success so far. I've always been honest about my art, and I'll continue to do the same in the future.

Interview & Text : Hiromu Sasaki
Photo : Kae Homma
Edit : Momoka Oba