On View: “Super Awesome: Art and Giant Robot” at the Oakland Museum of California

by Nastia VoynovskayaPosted on

Artwork by Barry McGee. The piece on the right once appeared on the cover of Giant Robot the magazine.

The title of “Super Awesome: Art and Giant Robot” does not lie: It’s difficult to talk about this large-scale museum exhibition centered around the current generation of New Contemporary artists, ’90s counterculture and Asian American pop culture without using the word “awesome” somewhere in your explanation. “Super Awesome” debuted at the Oakland Museum of California last Friday to a huge crowd eager to celebrate 20 years of Giant Robot, an unclassifiable arts platform that has taken many different forms, from a zine to a glossy magazine to a gallery and boutique. Curated by Giant Robot founder Erik Nakamura, “Super Awesome” features many new and site-specific works, such as an enormous, immersive installation by digital art duo Kozyndan and a mural outside of the museum by Andrew Hem.

In addition to examining the present, the show looks back at the history of not only Giant Robot, but of the New Contemporary Art movement itself. “Super Awesome” features work by Barry McGee, skate decks designed by Margaret Kilgallen and a collection of Giant Robot zines from the ’90s. Since its inception in 1994, Giant Robot evolved from a photocopied zine to a glossy magazine, which became the brick-and-mortar destination in LA that it is today when the publication went out of print.

“Super Awesome” pays homage to these various incarnations of Erik Nakamura’s vision: There are menageries of collectible action figures, enclaves with paintings on display by Amy Sol, James Jean and Masakatsu Sashie and displays of artist sketchbooks, materials and ephemera. Like in the magazine, parts of the exhibition are explained with Q & As from Nakamura and the artists hung next to the artworks. At the press preview, Nakamura acknowledged that he thought Giant Robot would be over when the magazine folded, but this exhibition is a testament to Giant Robot’s legacy from the past two decades and a triumphant look into the future.

“Super Awesome: Art and Giant Robot” will be on view at the OMCA through July 27.

Mural outside the OMCA by Andrew Hem.

Mini-sculpture based on a painting by Masakatsu Sashie.

Painting by Masakatsu Sashie.

Skate deck and comics by David Choe.

Visitor playing a game based on Rob Sato’s artwork.

Display of Giant Robot zines and magazines.

Rob Sato with his large-scale watercolor paintings.

Detail of one of Rob Sato’s paintings.

Kozyndan with their large-scale installation composed of prints of digital illustrations.

Detail of Kozyndan’s installation.

Skate decks designed by Margaret Kilgallen surrounded by collectibles and toys.

Paintings by James Jean.

David Choe mural inside the museum.

Process video of David Choe creating his mural.

Deth P. Sun with his work.

Close-up of Deth P. Sun’s paintings.

Curator Erik Nakamura giving an interview.

Luke Chueh with his work.

Comics by Adrian Tomine

A display of artist sketchbooks.

Painting by Amy Sol.

Hi-Fructose co-founder Attaboy with Erik Nakamura.

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