Picture of My Life Essay #1 My Father’s Paintings by Junpei Ueda

Reminders Photography Stronghold Gallery will be celebrating its 4th year anniversary. We will be proudly organizing Junpei Ueda’s solo show in upcoming November. He is one of the 2015 Photobook As Object workshop participants and he has been working on his book project “Picture of My Life” almost a year and finally it’ll be launched at the exhibition. Prior to the show, Junpei is sharing a series of his essay, #1 is about his father’s paintings.


When I was 9, I posed for my father to earn some pocket money. It was a fine and pleasant Sunday in November. I sat on a chair near the window, through which soft afternoon light shone. My father was about 2 meters away, sitting behind an easel. He worked quietly and was concentrating on the painting. It was a portrait of me staring into the distance. It was not easy for me to stay still but I enjoyed his attention. He didn’t say much during the session but it was a special ceremony for us. The image of my father painting still lives on in my memory as an inspiration.

My father made paintings of people and landscapes, as well as abstract work. All his paintings are so vivid that they almost look like they are moving. They show his state of mind when he was working on them. My favorite painting is the one of my mother when they were newlyweds. The work is characterized by speedy brush strokes and the harmonious combination of the pale blue background and her pink lips. The light-filled surface shows the young artist’s bliss as he faced his new wife and their future together.

There is another compelling painting entitled “Church Choir” that he had made as a 19-year-old with dreams of becoming a professional painter. The oil painting has dark heavy tones of red, yellow, green and black, and shows people groaning anxiously. In the center, an empty-eyed young man is standing in weak appeal to the viewer.

Influenced by my father, I also painted. I showed him my paintings, but I do not remember getting many compliments. My paintings were completely different from his. My father’s lines had organic expressions and they seemed to convey the emotions he had while working on them. I tried to follow his style and painted many self-portraits, but I could not draw a line like he did. My father seemed glad to see my interest in painting. “Having your own language besides words to express yourself will enrich your life,” he told me. Later, when I was 20, I became interested in photography. A camera did the work of capturing the scenes in front of me. All I have to do was to press the shutter button whenever I was moved.

Some scenes lingered inside me; intimacy with friends and lovers, loneliness and events that disturb my emotions. I wanted to capture such things in the photos. I came to realize that I could tell the story of my life by interweaving the scenes that I want to remember. Perhaps this would win my father’s compliments.

—- To be continued to #2.

English translation: Miyuki Okuyama
English proofreading: Tan Lee Kuen

His exhibition forthcoming November 3rd to 27th.
Picture of My Life has been all pre-ordered.