Posts Tagged ‘ art ’

#6 Manabu Ikeda

Manabu Ikeda – Ark, 2005.

Following on from #5, the Tate Liverpool review, I’ve been reliving my time there. Well, actually, more my time glancing at the books on the shelves in the gift shop. I’ve always had a love for East Asian culture so, me being me, I decided I’d see if they had any cheapish books on Japanese Edo prints. Not much luck. There was a large hardback on Hiroshige’s prints that I would have loved to possess if not for the £20 price tag (why are books getting more and more expensive?). Moving on from there, I looked for any other familiar names amongst the jutting spines and found none – I’m not talking Van Gogh or Banksy ‘familiar’. More like Hokusai, Korin and Jakuchu.

I didn’t find any. Although I did find this: Bye Bye Kitty!!!: Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art. At £25 I gave it a miss but not before a quick flick through which led me to Manabu Ikeda’s work.

Reminiscent of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated creations, his illustrations leapt off the page and danced around in front of me, waving metaphorical arms and exclaiming “Look at me, look at me!” Vibrant in their use of colour (and, in some cases, looking at further examples of work, the lack of colour), Ikeda’s work is spectacularly detailed. It’s like looking at Paul Kidby’s Discworld art infused with Final Fantasy’s Yoshitaka Amano and Tetsuya Nomura’s in-world and character designs. A lot to take in. But breathlessly stunning and wonderful. There’s always something to look at. Apparently it can take an entire day just to create a segment on the paper that is no bigger than the size of his fist – his work is that densely detailed and it shows in the final products.

If anyone’s played Final Fantasy 9, Existence may seem familiar. Personally it reminds me of the Iifa Tree, the Tree of Life and something a little like Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. The detail in the work even resembles life with it’s illustrated rivers, roads, pagodas, towers and tree-roots all intermingled in almost seamless harmony. At first glance it looks like a giant mossy tree but upon closer inspection, you can really see and appreciate the detail Ikeda invokes in his work.

Take a look at the piece Foretoken. In the bottom-left corner, an obvious reference to Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, an iconic piece in Japanese art. It’s interesting to see how art inspires art and how Ikeda combines graphic art with the universally recognised themes of popular Japanese art and culture; nature and the inevitability of life, creation, death and destruction. Upon closer look of Ikeda’s own ‘Great Wave’ in Foretoken, modern, human elements can be seen such as girders and building structures, possibly a representation of today’s Japan and the fusion of both old and new cultural references.

I think the dailyartfixx article-stub on Ikeda’s work sums up the content of the Bye Bye Kitty!!! book (and Ikeda’s work) very efficiently;

From March 18, 2011 to June 12, 2011, he is participating in the group show “Bye Bye Kitty” at the Japan Society in New York.  “Moving far beyond the stereotypes of kawaii and otaku culture, Japan Society’s show features sixteen emerging and mid-career artists whose paintings, objects, photographs, videos, and installations meld traditional styles with challenging visions of Japan’s troubled present and uncertain future. Each of the three sections, “Critical Memory,” “Threatened Nature,” and “Unquiet Dream,” not only offers a feast for the senses but also demolishes our preconceptions about contemporary Japan and its art.”

Manabu Ikeda: Mixed Media 

Looking at Ikeda’s work, it’s easy to see the fusion of traditional and contemporary Japanese art and how it subverts the current cultural norms of Japanese imagery (for example, shows like Pokemon and characters like Hello Kitty are now iconic of the far off country). It’s refreshing to see a return to the work of the old-school but with a definitely modern twist to it, as unique as an artist’s individual signature.

Ikeda has swiftly become one of my favourite artists in the space of two days; it’s the themes of his work, the attention to detail, the intelligent use of colour and shape. So much so that I am now considering using his work as a stepping stone to inspiring a creative writing piece for the Reading the World and the Business of Writing module rather than an old Edo print. I’ll consider it carefully of course, but I’ve already started jotting down ideas based on those few original glimpses of Ikeda’s work from yesterday.

I’ll finish off with another interesting piece of his (but make sure to click the links of his other work; even if you don’t find it as aesthetically beautiful as I do, it has to be said that his attention to detail is fantastic). To see more of his work at the Mizuma Art Gallery website, please click here.

Manabu Ikeda – Ninomaru Palace (episode from History of Rise and Fall), 2007.


#5 Tate Liverpool – DLA Piper Series ‘This Is Sculpture’

Foregoing the Alice in Wonderland exhibit on the grounds of student poverty, I had a good wander around the Tate Liverpool today, perusing the (free) DLA Piper Series: This is Sculpture exhibition, spanning two floors.

I’m supposed to do a six word review of it all… but I thought I’d best give you, dear reader (whomever you may be), a little bit of background information first. Which is basically that paragraph above, so knock yourself out.

Also it seems I am forever bound to be unable to escape Carol Ann Duffy. Her name cropped up on the second floor of the exhibition and I tried very hard not to run out of the Tate cringing – after a mildly torturous AS Level English Literature year on her work and running around Manchester Metropolitan University’s main building hoping she wouldn’t show up in my poetry seminars, I try not to break out in hives every time she’s mentioned just because that first year of college was terrible.

Moving on, here’s my review of post-modern art – my six word review:

Colourfully bland juxtaposed, fragmented geometrics.

I tried to be clever with it but I’m not entirely sure it worked.