Dreams are considered important, real, and public in some cultures, but absurd, irrational and personal in others. Japan has its own history of dreaming, and the importance of dreams has evolved through Japanese supernatural beliefs and art for centuries. “Dreams are like strange stories,” says Tokyo based artist Atsuko Goto, who builds on her own visions of dreams in her other-worldly mixed media drawings. “I draw what comes up from our unconscious, like hidden feelings reflected in our dreams.”
Miho Hirano’s delicate portraits of young goddesses are in and of nature, adorned by pastel flowers, butterflies, and humming birds. They stand blissfully as slender tree branches wrap them in love and color, or wade neck high in a shallow river. We are immediately reminded of “Flora,” represented in Botticelli’s “Allegory of Spring”, a profusion of flowers coming out of her mouth.
Japanese artist Stephanie Inagaki’s black and white charcoal drawings depict female figures that are not only an embodiment of her roots, but also of herself as an artist and a woman. For the past couple of years, she has been incorporating the Japanese ghost folklore and mythology of her culture into what she describes as “pillars of inspiration”; tall, bold, creative women, often self-portraits, that represent the well rounded woman Inagaki aspires to be. Previously featured on our blog, she likens the figures in her drawings to the Creation and Destruction goddesses like Kali from India or Izanami from Japan, and there is generally an underlying theme of life and death throughout. Inagaki invited Hi-Fructose into her new studio in Los Angeles to give us a preview and tell us more about the direction of where her work is going.
Japanese artist Izumi Kato’s debut exhibition in the United States at Galerie Perrotin in New York is all about his creatures with very simplified human features and penetrating eyes. The simplistic traces in his portraits are one of the consequences of painting with no brushes or tools – only his hands and occasionally, a spatula. When Kato first started to paint, he was immersed in painting the abstract, but then he decided to try more human shapes, which can sometimes seem childlike but with an adult and eerie appearance. In his work, you can discover portrayals of a man but also a woman, cute but also ugly, a toy but also a monster.
The sparkling and sweet demeanor of Japanese artist Hikari Shimoda’s child subjects is equally enchanting and disarming, and full of possibilities. Born and currently based in Nagano, Japan, but raised on Japanese animation and comics, Hikari herself is not unlike her characters, living on the edge between a place deeply rooted in its beliefs and traditions and an exciting, however uncertain, future. First featured in Hi-Fructose Vol. 29, and also on our blog, her works in recent years have been deeply impacted by the Great East Japan Earthquake, created from the perspective of a young artist living in the countryside, where social media and the books she reads are her main portal to the outside world.
Takashi Murakami’s often provacative works- which touch upon issues relating to high art and subculture, Japan’s defeat in World War II, the relationship between Japan and the US, contemporary art and Japanese art, as well as art and capitalism, while also taking into account political, cultural, and historical contexts- have greatly expanded the domain of international contemporary art. Comprising his historically monumental “The 500 Arhats” and numerous new works, his exhibition at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo focuses on the present state of Murakami’s career.