SAPPORO Magazine – Issue 01-9: Artist Mitsugu Aikawa

Feb 17, 2021

SAPPORO Magazine – Issue 01-9: Artist Mitsugu Aikawa


THE KNOT SAPPORO has many commission works on display. The artists who created them each have a deep connection to Hokkaido. We spoke to two of the artists about how they developed their ideas.

Text by Michiko Kurushima. Translation by Susie Krieble, Kana Koike, and Ari Murata.

A forest drawn with a thousand curves

On three backdrops of vivid green, a man, a woman, and a person in a wheelchair with a parent and child, are drawn. At THE KNOT SAPPORO, these works are displayed at the entrance to the restrooms. The paintings double as thoughtful images and personal signatures of the artist.

The artist is Mitsugu Aikawa. Multi-talented Aikawa is also known as being in charge of visuals for TOBIU CAMP, a festival of art, music, drama, etc., which is held every year at a small village in the forests of Shiraoi-cho, Hokkaido. He has been drawing this forest since 2011, and it has been a great place of influence on his style.

“I used to not like drawing trees actually. I recall entering a sketching competition when I was in third grade and I drew the Hokkaido Government Office. I was really pleased with my attempt at the elegant brick building, but used too much paint to draw a tree next to it. The teacher was really disappointed in the tree, and that really affected me.”

Aikawa started to draw illustrations for work and drew trees and grass, determined to improve. Similar to representing a person using symbols like the stick figure, he created a simplified, unique style to draw tree branches, which led to his signature style that we see today.

“I like the feeling that having a continuous curve adds to the image. While remaining predominantly minimalist, I also incorporated techniques from pointillism as if everything was made from tiny particles and is a collection of points.”

Today, Aikawa creates works by distorting the size of images based on trees or grass. He can draw huge murals without a draft, and create small worlds like the paintings displayed near the restrooms.

“I was constantly trying to figure out what my paintings meant and what could I add to the world. I think the imagery of the forest was a natural answer to all my ideas.”

The next challenge for Aikawa is to depict mountain scenery juxtaposed with illegally dumped garbage. How will he contrast plants that are full of vitality with objects that have been used up?


Painter. Born in 1976. Lives in Sapporo. Started painting in 2008. His works using the free lines that he is known for are created using different learned techniques. Since 2011, he has been in charge of visuals for TOBIU CAMP sponsored by the Tobiu Art Community.

Aikawa Mitsugu