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.
Hiroki Tsukuda’s moody and graphical landscapes incorporate elements of traditional Japanese arts and pop culture imagery. The Japanese artist has been residing in Germany for the past few months while his current exhibition, “Colla Max”, shows at Warhus Rittershaus Gallery in the city of Cologne. We recently met with him at his temporary open studio space at Autocenter in Berlin, Germany. The project is part of an international residence program curated by Tokyo based art gallery, Nanzuka Underground. Despite the rare opportunity to travel abroad, Tsukada says that it has little effect on his creative thinking. His drawings exhibit a rather neo-futuristic world view, a futuristic re-imagining of the visual and functionality of rapidly growing cities like Tokyo, where he lives. But unlike other neo-futurism artists, Tsukada teeters visually between old and new.
The name Ed Hardy immediately evokes images of tattooed baseball tees with cartoon skulls and studded baseball hats worn by reality TV stars. But before artist Don Ed Hardy became one of the most polarizing brands in history, he was a young aspiring artist whose favorite past time was going down to the beach in Southern California and looking at classic cars. He eventually went on to study under legendary Japanese tattoo artist Horihide, an experience that had a profound influence on Hardy’s signature, ornate style. Today, Hardy is retired from tattooing, instead focused on non-tattoo based art like printmaking, drawing, and painting. This also includes new porcelain works and tapestries in his upcoming exhibition curated by Varnish Fine Art gallery in San Francisco, “Visionary Subversive”.
Numbers of women artists still rank low in gallery rosters, less than 50 percent, across the world. With the exception of a few like Yayoi Kusama and Yoko Ono, women in the Japanese contemporary art world have yet to earn equal recognition. This is largely due to the historical conception that women were not suited to become professional artists. A new exhibition at Jiro Miura Gallery in Tokyo is bringing awareness to 19 emerging international women artists. “Ephemeral: Territory of Girls”, which opened on July 25th, showcases new works by Jana Brike, Amy Crehore, Virginia Mori, Ania Tomicka, Emi Adachi, Fuco Ueda, Kaori Ogawa, Miki Kato, Kimi Kuruhara, Kozue Kuroki, Satomi Kuwahara, Atsuko Goto, Yuka Sakuma, Minae Takada, Tsubaki Torii, Yumi Nakai, Yuko Nagami, Yuki Nagayoshi, Mao Hamaguchi, Miho Hirano, Shiori Matsumoto, Eri Mizuno, and Yuko Murai.
Mixed media artist Lauren Brevner paints eclectic and fantastic portraits of women ornamented with a collage of Japanese motifs. Born of mixed heritage in Vancouver, she recently moved to Osaka to get in touch with her Japanese ancestry. Life in Japan has had a major influence on the self taught artist since. Not long after her move in 2009, she apprenticed under Japanese fashion designer Sin Nakayamal. The inspiration of his luxurious prints resonates in the the way Brevner dresses her subjects.
Japanese artist Hirabayashi Takahiro (not to be confused with Takahiro Hirabayashi) infuses his religion’s mythology with the experience of growing up in his oil paintings. Using “boundaries” as a central theme, his dreamy portraits examine borders between the sky, land and sea, man and nature, childhood and adulthood, and how we navigate them. His main subjects are young girls who serve as a guide or guardian for those in this inbetween state of being. Considering their young age, they share in this delicate state.