Publisher Kodansha International says: Warriors of Art showcases forty of the latest and most relevant contemporary artists from Japan. Featuring the work of a wide range of painters, sculptors, photographers, and performance artists, the lavishly illustrated book is a shocking juxtaposition of the cute, the grotesque, the sexy, and the violent, offering a fascinating insight into Japanese society and its flourishing contemporary art scene.
Now this is a book which is easy to enjoy, flip through and come back to again and again. The introduction is short, the text introducing each artist goes straight to the point and the illustrations are plenty.
The author, Tokyo-based writer and critic Yumi Yamaguchi, has selected 40 artists whose work can only charm Western audience for the way they display and play with cruelty, cuteness, sex, etc. The fact that the Japanese culture is devoid of the taboos and barriers that Judeo-Christianism has imposed on us makes their work all the more appealing. Although i liked 95% of the works which appear in the book i couldn´t help but be disappointed when i realized that all of them fit a bit too perfectly the themes and aesthetics we expect from a Japanese artist.
The title Warrior of Art is inspired by Bushido (literally “The Way of the Warrior”), an essay on samurai ethics first published in 1900. Just like more than a century ago, Inazo Nitobe was attempting to explain the soul of his country to Westeners, the artists presented in this book share with us their vision of Japan.
“Warrior of Art” is also the title apparently used to describe Taro Okamoto (1911-1996), an influential contemporary artist who emerged in postwar Japan and who brought modern art to a wider audience.
Among the artists selected are several names many of us are familiar with: Shintaro Miyake, Hisashi Tenmouya (whose work illustrates the cover of the book), Noboru Tsubaki, Yoshitomo Nara, Maywa Denki, Mr., Takashi Murakami (who is truly one of the heroes of this book), Tabaimo, Kenji Yanobe, etc.
Then there were discoveries, loads of them. I can´t resist to open the show with the Toast Girl, a performed often spotted donning a cosplay outfit (so far so very normal) but also a toaster on top of a workman´s helmet or roller-skate vacuum cleaners. Now could somebody invite her for a new media art festival here in Europe? She would make more exciting evenings than the usual electro-band cum LED light show.
Hideomi Fukuchi’s paintings represent long-limbed girls with super power jumping, shouting and displaying the most menacing grins you can think of. First they only look like your usual anime and manga characters but there’s something very peculiar about them. After a few seconds you realize that some of them have three legs, huge feet and a six-pack just below their big round breasts. One moment the paintings just reproduce anime heroes, the next one they are displaying a new artistic expression based on a popular genre.
Hideomi Fukuchi (images)
Sako Kojima sculpts cute animals walking on grenades, a lamb licking its own anus, paints lonely, lost and sad animals of the forest and spends days inside a cage pretending to be a hamster that scratches the wall and bites bits of wood.
Sako Kojima, The Reason Why I Became The Hamster