When you think about the media that artists can work in, ink, paint, stone, metal, wood, and glass all spring readily to mind. We could take an even broader view and include things such as film, sound, and even light. But even then, we’d still be overlooking the creations of Keisuke Umeda, who brings to life scenes of beautiful nature, disturbing juxtaposition, and offbeat humor through the medium of boxed bento lunches.

Starting off with the most straightforward and aesthetically pleasing, in the conventional sense, here we see Umeda’s skillful arrangement of sliced burdock root and carrots, plus a single black sesame seed, produce a bird pausing among the blossoms of a plum tree.

▼ We wouldn’t mind hanging this on our wall, provided we could find a way to keep everything from falling down onto the floor.

The inspiration for the above bento is clearly the sort of classical Japanese techniques you’ll find on painted screens and hanafuda playing cards. Umeda’s influences aren’t limited to domestic sources, though, as he’s also a fan of Piet Mondrian. The latter half of the Dutch painter’s career was characterized by his use of right angles and primary colors, something which seems to have struck a chord with the bento artist.

▼ Mondrian’s Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow

WB 8

▼ Umeda’s Mondrian Bento

Jumping ahead a few decades from Mondrian’s minimalist paintings of the 1930s and ‘40s, Umeda has also tried his hand at making an edible version of the sort of 3-D effect Magic Eye stereograms that were a fad for a short stint in the ‘90s. The artist says that when you focus your eyes such that you see three black dots along the bottom edge, looking back up at the top will produce a 3-D image.

▼ Although we suspect this is actually a clever ruse just to get us to stare at Umeda’s artwork for a half-hour.

While we’re not sure if Umeda is playing tricks on us with his stereogram bento, we can say, for sure, that he has a playful side. Just look at these adorable little piggies, which, ironically, seem to be cutouts made from fishcake.

There’s a bit of a sinister subtext lurking there, though, as Umeda declares, “They’re looking at me with such pure-hearted eyes, but I’ll show no mercy in eating them up. Sorry guys.”

Similar dark overtones show up in the Rilakkuma bento. Usually, we see Japan’s beloved “Relaxing Bear” character napping, working his way through a stack of pancakes, or sprucing up the wheels of someone’s customized car. Umeda instead chooses to break new ground, by showing us what Rilakkuma would look like with the dark energies that blacken men’s souls coming to corrupt his essence.

Okay, so it’s actually just hijiki, a kind of sea vegetable commonly eaten in Japan. That doesn’t mean the visual effect isn’t exactly what Umeda was going for, as he describes it as, “a bento enveloped in a threatening atmosphere.”

We suppose if you’re fond of the phrase “delicious irony,” you might enjoy the juxtaposition of the perpetually laid-back Rilakkuma in such a perilous situation. Of course, it’s still not the most unsettling boxed lunch Umeda’s come up with. That honor instead goes to this.

“It’s really not that sexy looking, but all the same, it’s too embarrassing to eat it in front of other people in the cafeteria,” he recalls. “So I ate it sitting at my desk, alone. That just seems like how a pervert would do it…”

We’d say Umeda hit the nail on its head, even if we’re still scratching ours over why that was his intent.

Related: Keisuke Umeda Twitter account
Source: IT Media
Insert images: Wikipedia/Crab182