Years of bellowing from frustrated parents is enough to stop most people from playing with their food. For all the fun you can have sculpting mashed potato into greying dollops of lumpy starch, the creative output is seldom worth ruining a family meal. And so, most people eventually get over the desire to make dinner time more arty.
However, for a few, the overwhelming need to keep experimenting not only extends well into adulthood, but also produces some incredible artistic results. One such example of the positive impact of continued foodie craft is the brilliant auteur, Keisuke Yamada.
Unlike his more conventional artistic peers, Keisuke’s canvas is not made from cotton or linen, nor does he use metal, stone or wood for sculpture. Artist by night and electrician by day, Keisuke refuses to rely on traditional artistic techniques and materials. He operates entirely within the realm of bananas.
Using only a spoon and a toothpick, Keisuke is able to craft movie characters, faces and even dramatic scenes out of the fleshy curved pulp of shop bought banana bunches. Several of his creations have shot to international stardom, thanks to the unbelievable accuracy and stunning realism of his fruity likenesses. Darth Vader, the shark from Jaws and even an alien xenomorph have all been immortalised in food thanks to Keisuke’s astonishing precision and visual flair.
According to the artist himself, Keisuke’s journey began when he “peeled a banana and thought it might be interesting to carve a face into the fruit." His first creation was a simple smiling face. Keisuke was “surprised by how many people liked it...so then just started making more”. He takes inspiration from pop culture and original ideas, and is perfectly happy to enact suggestions from friends or family. A look through his portfolio reveals just how far he has come from the days of settling for smiling faces.
While it would be easy to dismiss Keisuke’s creations as little more than lighthearted cartoons, the reality of trying to use a banana as a sculpting material shows just how challenging his approach is.
Not only is the fruit notoriously soft and unstable, but it begins to brown and decay after a relatively brief time spent exposed to the air. This means that every sculpture not only has to be completed to an astonishing degree of accuracy, but that they all have to be finished within a very limited timeframe. There’s no opportunity for going back and making minor adjustments - speed is absolutely paramount.
As he has become more technically skilled, Keisuke’s work has begun to incorporate other elements of the banana to create more dynamic scenes. Depicting dragons, serpents and horses allows Keisuke to use the skin, creating the impression that astonishingly lifelike creatures are slithering out of the yellowy casing, making bananas appear more full of life than many would have ever thought possible.
Keisuke’s goal is ultimately to show his audience something that “people cannot believe they are seeing”. While many artists may claim to be doing the same, there can be little doubt that Keisuke’s approach to sculpture is utterly unique. One glance at his work is enough to truly take your breath away.