Apr 17, 2005

japanese art

This weekend I went to see a retrospective on a number of modern Japanese artists. It was curated by Takashi Murakami. If you look through that site you'll see that he's clearly incorporated modern Japanese media into his art - Manga, anime, cartoons, etc. But he takes a twist on it. He introduces themes into the art that aren't quite standard. For example, a teddy bear giving a small girl a good going over. It's quite twisted. I saw his work a few years ago in Seattle at an exhibit that showed off his collective's work under the title Superflat (there's a few pictures of the works at that site). While it's twisted the artwork is top notch and you can't help but look intently at the pictures and sculpture.

This exhibit was only curated by Takashi but it wasn't quite as twisted. It was by no means kid-friendly but it had a broader base of themes.

Everything however had a clear 'cute' aspect to it. Lots of anime and cartoon type characters. But there were also some other themes. There was a retrospective of old Japanese toys that was interesting due to the fact that the big eyes, cute theme held strong even back in the 50s. There was also some 'future' artwork on exhibit. I remember as a small kid checking out 'future' books from the school library. They showed how the future was going to look. They are laughable in their inaccuracy now but they were so optimistic. Everything was clean, had domes, and showed humans with incredible amounts of control over their environment.

One artist, Chinatsu Ban, made some of the cuter things. One of her pieces wasn't at the gallery but was in Central Park. It has a recurring theme - elephant underpants. This sculpture had a mommy and baby elephant wearing underpants. There was even a small pastel colored poo behind the mommy elephant. Very funny and the kids loved it.

The other piece by her was a Elephant Underpants vs. Half Apple. Again a typical Japanese anime or cartoon type theme and drawing but the artwork is a little more modern and interpretive.

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