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Japanese Contemporary 2D Artists

Link - article by Avi Abrams

Spectacular and complex, sophisticated 2D works - the ones that really stand out

Today we are going to look again at some cutting-edge contemporary art coming out of Japan, covering ground-breaking 2D Japanese artists largely unknown in the West. This is a second part of the series that started with Sensational Japanese Contemporary Art.

We asked Tomoo Yamaji, an artist specializing in three-dimensional sculptures (who has a good knowledge of art scene in Japan) to choose his favorite artists - veteran and young, famous and relatively unknown. He came up with a list of eleven artists that represent only a slice of the thriving contemporary art community in Japan.

Surrealism? Hyper-Realism? Unique Wonderland of Styles!

Natsuo Ikegami lives in Hyogo, Japan, but for all intents and purposes might have been living all this time on her own little planet. Her enchanting scenes and landscapes are inhabited by wonderfully naive, joyous beasts and, yes, babies. See, for example, this "Forest in February" (left image below), or "To the New Land" on the bottom right:

(images credit: Natsuo Ikegami)

More serious, but as uniquely unorthodox is the work by Atsushi Suwa (displayed at Gallery Naruyama). This half-fossil, half-(alive?) giraffe seems like a creature from surreal worlds of Salvador Dali, or J. G. Ballard "Vermilion Sands" stories (oil on wooden panel, 130 x 324 cm):

(image credit: Atsushi Suwa, courtesy of the artist)

Atsushi Suwa is especially good at portraying our humanity and frailty in the old age, in a female form (some works nsfw), or in seemingly mundane sleeping bodies, which seem to levitate off the canvas and achieve a life of their own - "To Live or to Die, We Share the Same Fate" is the motto of the artist.

Here is another stunning work by Atsushi Suwa, called "Eating Flowers":

(image credit: Atsushi Suwa, courtesy of the artist)

Pen on Paper, with glorious detail and marvellous play of lights

Hiroki Yasutomi draws with a simple pencil detailed masterpieces that are anything but simple:

"Resonance of Lights", pencil on paper and hemp cloth, 2009, private collection -

(image credit: Hiroki Yasutomi, courtesy of the artist)

"Night River", pencil on paper and hemp cloth, 2013, private collection -

(image credit: Hiroki Yasutomi, courtesy of the artist)

The Bonsai Tree, Deconstructed

Drawn with wonderful sophisticaiton, these pieces by Hiroko Masuko are also called the "Bonsai Sapience", and include allusions to the Worm Ouroboros and the mystique of ancient samurai swords:

"Firing Bonsai", ink on watson paper mounted on panel, 2009 - private collection: Embassy of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg in Japan; size: 224×146 cm (top left image):

(images credit: Hiroko Masuko, photo by Masaru Yanagiba, courtesy of the artist)

Ball Point Pen + a Lot of Patience

Speaking about fantastically detailed art work, the "Dragon" by Noboru Tamura is a two-meter wide canvas featuring the mythical beast, where every hair is meticulously drawn and every scale breathes mystery and terror. Noboru Tamura's works were displayed at Jim Henson's Creature Shop in London, among other places:

"Dragon", ball point pen on Japanese paper, 2012 - Size: 200 x 100 cm

(image credit: Noboru Tamura, courtesy of the artist)

Folk Art with a Twist

Primitive, abstract and somewhat folksy, colored pencil drawings on wooden blocks by Kentaro Kobuke are displayed at Scai The Bathhouse and other galleries throughout Japan:

(image credit: Kentaro Kobuke, courtesy of the artist)

Another wonderful piece of deceptively primitive art is the "Children Revolution by Takeru Toyokura, paper and felt cutout on panel, 2012, size: 60 x 91 cm

(image credit: Takeru Toyokura, courtesy of the artist)

Gothic, Abstract, Intense

Art by Sakan Kan-no features sophisticated, even somewhat menacing, predatory shapes, reminiscent of fine bones and insectoid web latticework:

"ER7100101", urethane and acrylic paint on canvas mounted on panel, 2010 -

(image credit: Sakan Kan-no, courtesy of the artist)

Another doodle-like intense art is being produced by Takuru Miyamoto. Here is the "Kazenoko (The Child of the Wind)", mixed media, 2013, size: 58 x 77 x 5 cm (left image below):

(images credit: Takuru Miyamoto, courtesy of the artist)

Yuta Ikehara transforms a mundane folding screen into a "Depositing Shell Casing" canvas, acrylic paint on inkjet print, folding screen, 2012:

(image credit: Yuta Ikehara, courtesy of the artist)

Artist by the name ZAnPon shows us the "Sparkly Person" piece: color pencil, ball point pen and acrylic on paper - 2008, size: 145 x 97 cm -

(image credit: ZAnPon, courtesy of the artist)

From Traditional Japanese Print to a Funky Manga Wonderland

And so we progress to a more traditional (though deceptively traditional) work by Baron Ueda. He manages to combine traditional Japanese art style with elements of manga characters and achieves considerably cooler and edgier look (as his dazzling, in-your-face flash website clearly testifies). How traditional some of his work is? Enough so as to be placed in the Kyoto's "Hachi", a tea ceremony room:

"Hachi", silk screen and gold leafing on Japanese paper, 2009, size: 132 × 182 cm

And then, there is a wealth of poppier, funky graphics that Baron Ueda seem to have mastered equally well... Check out the rest on his website, which without hesitation can be called "A Funky Manga Wonderland"!

(images credit: Baron Ueda, courtesy of the artist)

Article by Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.


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