Mr.’s work is closely linked to the Japanese movement “Superflat,” coined by artist Takashi Murakami in 2000. Superflat refers to a tendency toward two-dimensionality in Japanese visual art, animation, graphic design, and fashion that can be traced back to traditional painting of the 17th through 19th centuries known as nihonga. Contemporaneously, the style is linked with Japanese animation, anime, and comic books, manga, which proliferated after World War II. Over the span of nearly twenty years, Mr.’s oeuvre has elevated anime and manga subculture by highlighting its cultural significance rather than simply critiquing its frivolity.
For this exhibition, Mr. presents a new body of work with a renewed focus on the spritely characters that have long inhabited his visual world. These recent representations appear as floating heads, both across the gallery walls as shaped-canvas works, and in dream-like depictions, surrounded by everyday objects that defy gravity. A life-size sculpture dressed as an adolescent girl embodies the sentiment of moe—a platonic adoration towards manga and anime characters—representing a maturation and focus on emotional range in contrast with artist’s previous, more sexually explicit works.
Additionally, in conjunction with his participation in the Yokohama Triennale (through November 5, 2017), Mr. will present a selection of drawings that incorporate notes, scribbles, and sketches that are a part of his daily artmaking process. For Mr., who is a classically trained artist, these drawings represent an intensely personal component of his practice that he likens to poetry.
Mr. (b. 1969, Cupa, Japan, lives and works in Tokyo), born Masakatsu Iwamoto, graduated from the Department of Fine Arts, Sokei Art School in Tokyo in 1996. Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized at Seattle Art Museum, WA (2014); and Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, France (2006). Select group exhibitions featuring his work include Animamix Biennale 2015-2016, Daegu Art Museum, South Korea (2015-16); Kyoto-Tokyo: From Samurais to Mangas, Grimaldi Forum, Monaco (2010); Animate, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan (2009); KRAZY! The Delirious World of Anime + Comics + Video Games + Art, Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada (2008); RED HOT: Asian Art Today from the Chaney Family Collection, Museum of Fine Arts Houston (2007); and Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture, Japan Society, New York (2005). Mr.’s work is in numerous international public and private collections, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Seattle Art Museum, and Daegu Art Museum, South Korea.