"Marboro Theatre" #2 Oil on canvas, 14" x 12", 2011
The Artwork of Yoichiro Yoda
The subject of time has always been a key factor in my work. My paintings deal with time, space, and history.
The paintings are figurative and narrative. For subject matter, I use film characters from the silent era and film Noir films. For the setting, I use historic, but usually fading old New York buildings such as hotels and theatres that are in the process of being demolished. I like to refer to the images as "Scenes" as in a film noir picture, or as a play in a theatre. Characters from different time periods/films are displaced from their original surroundings to act out a life that may be confusing or ludicrous, creating a newly "Edited" or "Spliced" reality. Occasionally, real life characters will be placed alongside film characters as well, presenting the vast differences between our "Contemporary" life to how things were over 80 years ago.
My original interest in this theme began one winter morning in 1994 on a bus trip from Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. I was looking out the tinted window of the bus when I noticed that the driver must have made a detour and passed through 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. My eyes immediately focused on a very old window of a theatre. Suddenly, I remembered the old movie theatres on this block when I was a kid walking past them with my father, back in 1982.
Since that day in 1994, I have extensively researched the theatres of 42nd street, first by sneaking in, then having been granted permission from the city's UDC corporation to document all of the shuttered theatres. I felt that it was important to preserve these magnificent theatres on film, video, and in paintings because I knew that they were not meant to survive the immense transition that was about to take place in the city. Since then, In addition to the paintings, I have finished documentary films called: "Last Days of 42nd Street", "Last Days of Coney Island", and "Last Days of Hotel Pennsylvania".
When I started putting film characters in the paintings, it was mainly of Lillian Gish of the silent era, but these days I am more influenced by Film Noir. I think I like the sense of impending doom of Film Noir plots that work well with the real life horrors of how little our history is being preserved, as we have witnessed in Coney island, Times Square, and Hotel Pennsylvania, in the name of greed.
I hope to preserve as much as possible what I have seen with my own eyes, in my paintings and video.