Articles

Art & Culture

Jan 1, 2015

Candy Wonderland

Osamu Watanabe is a contemporary artist who uses a variety of candy and whipped cream made from resin to fashion elaborate designs and sculptures. His eye-catching artwork has led him to be featured numerous times on Japanese TV shows. What inspires him? We speak to him to find out.

What inspired you to start creating candy-inspired artwork?

My mum taught people how to make traditional sweets and candy, so confectionary has always been a big part of my life and is something that’s close to my heart. There’s also the fact that sweets are something that most people enjoyed since they were children. I want my work to be associated with happy childhood memories.

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Osamu Watanabe
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Sugar Frog

What material do you work with to create your installations?

Resin, mostly. It looks closest to the real thing, but I have to admit it gets a little challenging to pipe the “cream” because its texture and consistency is not like the real cream at all.

What’s the most memorable reaction you’ve had to your work?

In Japan, it’s pretty common to see artificial renditions of food that resemble the real thing so I usually get the biggest reactions when I showcase my work outside of Japan.

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Osamu Watanabe’s Postcard Book
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Sugar Horse

Can you tell us about the more elaborate work you’ve done?

I came from Yamaguchi prefecture, and there is a huge boat race held there every year in Tokuyama city. In 2014, I was invited to create an installation for this race and I fashioned a 3m-long speedboat out of resin “candy”. It was painstaking work, but totally worth it in the end!

You fashion yourself as a “prince” of a fantasy land. How important is this image to you as an artist?

In a way, that image is a means for the audience to better understand my work, and it does help generate a bit of buzz in the Japanese media for my work. In reality, my home is actually very simply decorated!

Tell us a little about the books you’ve published.

My first book, “Sweet or Unsweet?” was published a few years ago, and it lets readers know more about my work and the inspiration behind the various exhibitions. More recently, I released a postcard book, which allows customers to share some of my sweet treats with family and friends.

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Watanabe putting the finishing touches on the 3m long boat for Yamaguchi’s annual boat race
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(Text Denise Li images ©OSAMU WATANABE)

Find out more about Osamu Watanabe and his work by visiting
http://watanabeosamu.tokyo/ (in Japanese and English).