Yuichiro Ukai’s artworks overwhelm with their expansiveness and multipart narratives, populated with recurring characters and plots idiosyncratically appropriated from folk culture, Edo-era ukiyo-e, and mass media. Yokai—“Monsters” in Japanese—was created in 2019 at the Atelier Yamanami, an organization that serves people with developmental and physical disabilities, which the artist joined at age 19 upon graduating from high school. There, creative projects are encouraged, yet unguided. During recess, Yuichiro Ukai flips through his favorite books, especially guides about animals, insects, popular anime characters, and traditional Japanese monsters. He also makes miniature figurines, dinosaurs, and skeletons molded in clay.
Ukai imports disparate subjects without contextual elements, incorporating them into multi-panel rhythmic and intricate scenes usually comprised of two to eighteen works, extending from right to left in clashing time zones and cultures. The entirety of Yokai consists of seven parts, gradually disseminated to collections in France, Japan, Switzerland, and the United States after their completion. The development of Ukai’s compositions relies on the artist’s recollection of the narratives previously depicted. Characters, finely executed in markers, colored pencils, and ink on cardboard, return in herds or successions, with slight variations of movements and expressions.