There is nothing perfect about the pretty “Tokyo girls” that artist Tomoyoshi Sakamoto paints. Sweet with a twist of irony, his acrylic paintings are representative of Neo-Nihonga Japanese style. In one painting, girls play “dress up” in a scene that would look like any typical sleepover. As they apply their makeup, one horrifyingly ties strings to another’s watery eyes. Tears are a common characteristic of Sakamoto’s subjects, as they inflict pain and humiliation upon themselves. Not all of his works are graphic, but more melancholy.
It’s not manga. This is the starting point of a conversation that Yoshitomo Nara will host today about his debut solo exhibition in Hong Kong, “Life is Only One.” The show opened last night at the Asia Society, named after Nara’s painting “Life is Only One!”, featuring a child holding a skull as he contemplates life. In a recent interview, Nara shared, “When I was a child, the word “life” itself, of course, was a foreign concept. After turning 50, however, and with the deaths of people close to me and with the recent earthquake, I started to think about life more realistically – the limits of life, and the importance of what one can accomplish during that time.”
On Saturday, CHG Circa revealed Kazuki Takamatsu’s much anticipated second solo with the gallery (previewed here), “Spiral of Emotions”. Takamatsu, who was in attendance from Japan, has captured the curiosity of his fans with his signature technique called Depth Mapping. Ask Takamatsu about his perplexing style and he might label it as “Shojo-Irasuto”, or a style of illustration inspired by Japanese girl’s comics. He is part of a new generation that celebrates its pop culture, which we see in his goddess-like school girls with a heavenly aura. Takamatsu once fronted his own punk rock band, “Almond Crush”, and follows current fashion trends, but he also has a spiritual side rooted in cultural tradition. His twelve new paintings explore this tug of war between the old and new.
Japanese painter Yumiko Kayukawa will debut new work on June 11th at Foley Gallery, New York. Kayukawa grew up in a small town in Hokkaido, Japan. She found a love of animals in her natural surroundings, and they continue to embody important themes in her work. Except for the show’s titular piece “Fire Horse” (Hinoe Uma), don’t expect 11 paintings of horses in this show. Depicted in her contemporary Manga (Japanese comics) inspired style, girls appear in fantasical scenes with a variety of new animal counterparts. See more after the jump!