“Foretoken” (2008) by Manabu Ikeda. 190 x 340 cm. Images courtesy Mizuma Art Gallery
In 2008, Japanese painter Manabu Ikeda completed a monumental painting titled “Foretoken.” A nod to Hokusai’s famous woodblock painting “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” the piece depicts a towering, violent tsunami uprooting and devouring everything in its path. But 3 years later, when an actual tsunami flattened many parts of Japan’s Tohoku region, the imagery in the painting was deemed so traumatic and triggering that it was never shown in Japan and was first unveiled in New York in 2014. But despite its relative rarity, the painting unexpectedly contributed to the making of this year’s Oscars sweep: the 2022 film “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
[Manabu’s painting] became a guiding light two years into the writing process when I was feeling overwhelmed by the script, feeling worthless and stupid for trying to tackle something so big.Daniel Kwan
Last year when “Everything Everywhere All at Once” was first released, one of the writers, Daniel Kwan, took to Twitter to write about overcoming his shame associated with being a maximalist filmmkaker, which had to do with the writer’s undiagnosed ADHD.
Kwan concluded with Ikeda’s painting, explaining how “it became a guiding light two years into the writing process when I was feeling overwhelmed by the script, feeling worthless and stupid for trying to tackle something so big.”
“Manabu’s paintings are pure maximalism,” Kwan continued, “but when you pull back there is still always a core. In this case, it’s a wave. Just a big wave, holding as much as it can. For our script, that core was a family. It’s just a family, holding as much as it can. And wow look at all it holds.”
The focal point of Ikeda’s paintings are often nature: an anthropomorphic, powerful and sometimes villainous nature that is reclaiming and swallowing everything in its way, much in the same way that antagonist Jobu Tapaki wields chaos.