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Tetsuji Yamashita

Tetsuji was born in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture in 1968. After graduating from Nagoya University of Arts, Department of Design, he worked as a graphic designer. While he was attending university, he took a year off and traveled to Kenya as the 30th generation student of Kenya Swahili Language School of Japan-Africa Cultural Exchange Association. After graduation, he traveled to five countries including Zimbabwe. After returning to Japan, he started making paper-mosaic images based on his travel experience and pursued to become an artist after he won the 2007 Cannes International Exhibition. An unparalleled unique method has been described as a “paper quilt” in the Netherlands and has been exhibited both domestically and internationally through solo and group exhibitions.

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Universal rhythm. The color that is there now. (Artist statement)

“It will take about two more hours for those black clouds to get here.” In Africa, Tetsuji was at the eaves to get out of torrential rain, and he had a small conversation with an elderly man under the same eaves. At that moment he made up his mind to become an artist to express Africa, an absolute foreign country, using colored cutout papers. The sun rises and goes down every single day. It is a rhythm that has not changed since ancient times. The fundamental questions for all living creatures could be reasoned by using the five senses and sixth intuition, which are called instinct. There is no calculation or reason. Like people have a different understating toward one piece of poetry, all the creatures feel and understand the act of living itself differently. Here is the concept of his artwork which is “his artwork needs to be completed with a picture and a poem”.

What Tetsuji is trying to express in his artwork is “ to live”.In the summer of 1990, he flew to Africa saying just this one word “I want to see the lion.” He wanted to see their lively eyes, not the tired eyes in the zoo. He learned the language, walked alone, and traveled with all his senses. The fact that during the stay he found “the color that is there now” and “he had lived in Africa” led him to use the colored paper to express the life of Africa. Of course, it is not only Africa that has life. Life is everywhere and plays the rhythm. Africa is just the starting point for Tetsuji.

“To live” is sometimes strong and sometimes fragile. Someday the youth is gone. However, another beauty is born there. The same is true for paper. Letters and pictures written on the papers that were made hundreds of years ago are attractive because the time has given them depth and they have been able to remind you of the past. However the color of works changes over time, it means that it gets older with viewers. Being old means creating a story. Tetsuji compares a story to a journey and both a creator and viewers share the thoughts hidden in poetry. That is the concept of his artwork and his expression of “to live”.

Selected Exhibitions
2023   Solo show (Gallery MENIO, Nagoya-City / Esplanade Gallery, Nagoya-City, Japan)

2017   Solo show (Central Art Gallery, Nagoya-City / Sekisyo Art Museum, Hamada-City / Create Hamamatsu, Hamamatsu-City, Japan)

2012   Solo show (SPACE WOMb , New York, US)

2009   Le Salon du Monde de la Culture et des Arts Canne-Azur 2009 (Canne, France)

     Hands across the Pacific 2009 (a traveling exhibition in Japan, China and Canada)

2008   Le Salon du Monde de la Culture et des Arts Canne-Azur 2008 (Canne, France)

     Solo show (Gallery G2, Tokyo / Create Hamamatsu, Hamamatsu-City, Japan)

2007   Le Salon du Monde de la Culture et des Arts Canne-Azur 2007 (Canne, France)

     Solo show (Gallery Kaoru, Tokyo, Japan)

2005   Pusan Design Festival (Pusan, Korea)

2004   Barcelona International Biennale (Barcelona, Spain)

2002   The 17th National Cultural Festival Tottori (Tottori Prefecture, Japan)

1997   The 3rd Triennale Exhibition of Asia Graphic Poster (Seoul , Korea)




Excellence Award (Minobu town council chairman Award )- International paper cutting art contest


Grand prize – Le Salon du Monde de la Culture et des Arts Canne-Azur 2009(Canne, France)

Canadian International Cultural Exchanges Award – Hands across the Pacific 2009(a traveling exhibition in Japan, China and Canada)


Grand prize – Le Salon du Monde de la Culture et des Arts Canne-Azur 2008(Canne, France)


Silver prize – Le Salon du Monde de la Culture et des Arts Canne-Azur 2007(Canne, France)