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.
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”.