In Hiroaki Ito’s paintings and drawings, he depicts Japanese businessmen—referred to as “salarymen” in their respective country—in perpetual states of submission, anguish, self-assuredness, and general unrest. His intimate angles, often below the subject, looking up, punctuate the moods he evokes with these suited, white-collar workers. These men and women are caught in mid-apology, somber reflection, or even near-vomiting.
In 2016, the watercolors of Moira Hahn recall the woodblock prints of Japan’s Edo period, which ended nearly 150 years ago. Even with endearing, anthropomorphic animals in the place of human warriors or villagers, there’s a refined quality to the work that feels centuries-formed. And hidden within these pieces, you’ll often find charming, humorous narratives and modern-day commentary.
Akiya Kageichi is a Japanese illustrator who calls himself Golden Gravel, a name which may refer to Japanese rock gardens. His sinister jesters, lazy rulers and clandestine warriors are set within scenes full of chaotic imagery. Astrological symbols, particularly moons, are heavily prominent, suggesting the mysterious forces of dark nights are at work. In a single plane, objects morph, creating dynamic and active scenes. Kageichi reveals hidden underworlds and secret futures, in which sorcery and witchcraft pull the strings and determine what happens in the real world.
In Tabaimo‘s worlds, nothing is as ordinary as it appears. Light bulbs morph into moons, walls dissolve, and trees turn into snakes. These eldritch environments capture the viewer who stands at the center, and transports him into an unknown underbelly of the everyday. The artist achieves a totaling effect by manipulating architectural elements and allowing hand-drawn animations that reference both Japanese manga and traditional Edo-period prints, to organically bleed out of the two-dimensional plane and into the exhibition space. The result is a pseudo-theater where the viewer is the main actor among anthropomorphic objects and a cast of characters, whose interplay raises social, political, and gendered topics of contemporary import.
“Since I am not so good at making words to describe what I think and want, I choose to draw. And since I love to see the harmony in beautiful color relationships to emphasize
the stories among everything that surrounds me in the real world, what I see and what I draw, I choose to paint,” Mari Inukai shared at the opening of her GR2 show, “Marilla Blue and Orange.” The exhibition blurs the lines of her signature worlds, in terms of her narrative and artistic styles. In addition to her new paintings (previewed here), which she describes as a mixture of Taoism, harmony and balance, nostaligia, fantasy, reality and dreams, the show also features her process sketches.