Japanese Artist Daisuke Ichiba’s Intricate Drawings Interweave The Disturbing And The Grotesque

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Life is an inextricable combination of beauty and awfulness, good and evil, and Japanese artist Daisuke Ichiba captures these dichotomies in his highly detailed, densely populated drawings. Drawing is just one of the media that Ichiba has mastered — he is also a painter, filmmaker, and photographer. No matter the form, though, his content grapples with the reality of life and its grotesqueries.

“Choosing to create work that is only beautiful feels artificial. Thus I paint both. You cannot sever the two. The expression that results is a natural chaos. In my work I project chaos, anarchy, anxiety, the grotesque, the absurd, and the irrational. By doing so I attain harmony. This is my art. Put simply, I paint humanity (the spirit).”

At first glance it’s possible to miss the disturbing elements of Ichiba’s work. The Indian ink compositions are dense and unusual for Japanese art, which tends toward clean lines and minimalism, although they do include Japanese iconography such as the schoolgirl and cherry blossoms. Influenced by his early admiration of comic book art and manga as well as the loss of his mother at age 8, his works fuse vile, often many-eyed, monsters into domestic scenes. Figures are missing features—an eye here, a mouth there—and the occasional introduction of color feels threatening, reminiscent of spreading blood.

He meditates on sexuality and death and the intangible cord that ties them together. Ichiba’s haunting tableaus are a type of contemporary shunga (Edo-period erotic scrolls), in which beauty navigates chaos with one eye closed. (Source)

The impassivity of the deformed figures is striking in the work. Both human and monster accept their fates. The faceless children and severed heads represent the darkness in all of us, ubiquitous and unquestioned. Read More >


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Japanese Artist Arrested for Distributing 3D Model Of Her Vagina

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On Saturday, Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi was arrested for the crime of distributing indecent material. And what did she distribute, exactly? Digital data that represents 3D modeling information of her vagina. After raising around $10,000 via her crowd-sourcing campaign, Igarashi was able to complete the construction of her planned vaginal-shaped kayak. As part of the campaign, donors were promised the digital file from which Igarashi was able to complete her design – it is for sending these files that Igarashi was arrested, and faces up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. If you thought sexist double standards were beyond apparent here in the States, then let me direct you to Japan’s incredible double standards, most strongly evidenced by the celebration of penises in an annual penis festival and their stance on most international pornography standards. Known by the pseudonym rokudenashi-ko ( “good-for-nothing kid”), 42-year-old Igarashi began working with 3D models of her vagina as a response to the shame and ignorance she felt about her own genitalia.

From her web site: “I make art pieces with my vagina, which I would rather call Manko(MK). I thought it was just funny to decorate my vagina and make into a diorama, but I was very surprised to see how upset people get when they see my works or even hear me say the word Manko. Even when a TV station asked me to be on their show, they wouldn’t dare let me say DECO-MAN because “MAN” is from the taboo word “Manko”. Why did I start making these kind of art pieces? It’s because I had never seen the vagina of others and I was too self-conscious of mine. I did not know what a vagina should look like at the same time, so I thought mine was abnormal. Manko and vagina, have been such a taboo in Japanese society. Penis, on the other hand, has been used in illustrations and has become a part of pop culture. But vagina has never been so cute. Vagina has been thought to be obscene because its been overly hidden; although it is just a part of a woman’s body.”

There is a petition circulating advocating for Igarashi’s release that has already collected almost 19,000 signatures. You can watch her crowd-sourcing campaign video here. (via guardian and spoon & tamago)

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4-Inch Point Of View: Stunning Landscapes From Around The World Captured With An iPhone 

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Sam Alive is a New York city-based photographer who has truly aced the digital lens of an iPhone. His project “Through the Phone” features stunning landscapes, urban cityscapes and natural sceneries all captured with a mobile camera.

The key to Sam’s work is the juxtaposition between the sharp and detailed view presented on the mobile screen and the blurry unrecognizable background behind it. To mock the late influx of smartphones in our lives, artist takes these wide breathtaking vistas of sea shores, valleys and skyscrapers, and crams them into a tiny 4-inch display. Thus, limiting the viewer’s vision and making a good point about the change in our perception.

“Life is like an adventure, because you never know what is going to happen next; you only have one life, all we can do until we die is live everyday to the best of our ability. As long as I am still alive, I will continue to take pictures everyday of my life.”

Sam started his project “Through the Phone” two years ago and already had a chance to travel and take photographs all over Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, San Francisco and New York. In his Tumblr blog, he promises to keep on traveling and updating his project with more captivating shots through the phone. (via designboom)

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Miniature Scenes of Industrial Japan Sculpted Using Human Hair

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Japanese artist Takahiro Iwasaki, seen previously meticulously carving topographical maps from electrical tape, has created a new body of work that’s equally as detailed. This time, the artist uses cloth fibers, human hair, and dust to depict miniature scenes of large refineries and power plants. The works were apart of an exhibition at the Kawasaki City Museum earlier this year entitled Out of Disorder.

The charcoal-colored landscapes look like they’ve been under a lot of pressure and are on the edge of collapse. This inspiration came from the industrial rise of Japan, and Iwasaki used satellite images from Google Earth to recreate its old cityscapes. He began forming these sculptures by first soaking towels in ink and then dirtying them to create rags, serving as the base for the delicately-constructed generators and gantry cranes; it’s meant to signify the lands that were leveled in the WWII air raids. These gritty and melancholy scenes depict an era of post-war Japan that is now past, but still recalls the labor and sweat that went into it. (Via JunkCulture, Spoon & Tamago, and Azito Art)

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Ayano Tsukimi Replaces The Dead With Doll Sculptures In Shrinking Japanese Village

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The village of Nagoro is remote location hidden in the valley of Shikoku, Japan. Its small town charm remains enchanting, but its lack of work possibilities has driven its residents to leave for big cities in search for a better life. Nagoro is slowly shrinking.

“When I was a child there was a dam here, there was a company, and hundreds of people used to live here.”

In hopes that she could bring back life to her now desolated hometown of Nagoro, Japanese artist Ayano Tsukimi comes up an unexpected solution.

Tsukimi has populated the village with dolls, each representing a former villager. Around 350 of the giant dolls now reside in and around Nagoro, replacing those that died or abandoned the village years ago.

“I don’t like making weird dolls, but people who blend into the scenery.”

In a recent documentary titled The Valley Of Dolls, director Fritz Schumann explores Tsukimi’s doll-filled world, highlighting the time and artistry that goes into making the figures, and explaining her motivations. (via The Verge)

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Sebastian Masuda’s Colorful Rebellion Takes Inspirations From Harajuku Kawaii Culture

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Harajuku Kawaii Culture

Harajuku Kawaii Culture

Harajuku Kawaii Culture

Japanese artist and leader of Harajuku kawaii culture, Sebastian Masuda, celebrated color and texture with his most recent, and first exhibition here in the US, “Colorful Rebellion.”

Last month, Chelsea’s Kianga Ellis Projects provided Masuda with the space to create a wonderfully weird, colorful wonderland that included plastic toys, bundles of fake fur, stuffed animals, and other accoutrements of manufactured cuteness. The installation was to be read as an autobiographical space, one that, through its many layers, compiled  universal themes such as delusion and fate. The aesthetics of the piece takes from Masuda’s main passion, Harajuku fashion.

The installation included a “zone” for desire, the future, delusion, fate, wounds, and reality, with the seventh zone (a reference to the seven deadly sins), “entrusted in your hands.” Although there was definitely something a bit dark at play, the space, overall, exuded Masuda’s rebellious but lively ways of seeing.

The installation was up until March 29th, 2014 at the Kianga Ellis Projects in New York.

(via Hyperallergic)

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Laurie Simmons’ Photo Series About Japanese Subculture Of Cosplay

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Laurie Simmons‘ recent show, Kigurumi, Dollers and How We SeeSalon 94 Bowery in New York, features eerie looking photos of dollers (also known as Kiggers), a circle of Japanese cosplay enthusiasts (Kigurumi), who dress up like anime-style female dolls and wear their costumes out in public. The men and women involved in this fascinating ‘counter-cuture’  go to great lengths to suppress any lingering vestiges of their own bodies, wearing 360-degree masks, wigs, and full bodysuits.

Simmons gathers her own models and Doller costumes in order to create her own line of Kiggers.

Some of my cosplayers are men and some are women but they all portray female characters. I try to explore the psychological subtexts of beauty, identity and persona surrounding the assembled Dollers. At first I dressed them only in fetish latex, which seemed both doll-like and right for their identities, but it soon became clear that they needed to expand their repertoire and play dress up.

Along her collection of photographs, we see this odd juxtaposition between the inanimate and the living; how is it possible to be experiencing something both so fake yet so real all at once? It is that and more- Simmons’ gives these ‘dolls’ the opportunity to experience the phenomenon of the selfie (“Yellow Hair / Red Coat / Snow / Selfie” [2014]) and an overall exposure to what is to be present, as something outside of the realm of the average human being, in the current world of self-promotion and its agenda (perfection, beauty, etc). “Might masking (becoming a Kigger, in this instance) be at least part of the appeal of contemporary forms of imaging and presentation of the self via social media?”, asks Simmons.

 In the last decade the boundaries separating identity and persona have become increasingly blurred — as individuals ‘present’ their BEST selves to their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram followers. One tilt of the iphone can make the difference between a glamorous, funny or obscene selfie. I wonder about the fuzzy space between who “we” are to ourselves and the “we” that is invented, constructed and expressed using the readily available tools of the 21st century? Aren’t we all playing dress-up in some part of our lives?

Laurie Simmons: Kigurumi, Dollers and How We See in on view at Salon 94 Bowery (243 Bowery, Lower East Side) through April 27.

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Photographs Of The Unconditional Love between An Elderly Woman And Her Cat

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It doesn’t get better than being loved by a fluffy, soft animal. It is said that the love between a guardian and their pet is unconditional; an-almost familial bond that grows bigger and tighter as time goes on.

Thirteen years ago, Japanese photographer Miyoko Ihara began snapping pictures of her now 88-year-old grandmother, Misao, and her odd-eyed kitten, Fukumaru. Misao, a farmer and merchant of fresh vegetables, found the cat abandoned in a shed, and the pair has been inseparable since then. She named the cat ‘Fukumaru” in hope that “God of fuku (good fortune) would follow her. Lucky for the 88-year old MIsao, Fukumaru stayed by her side through hard work and disability. They simply make their life better just by being together. The photographs are just a gilmpse at how wonderful, and important their friendship is to each other.

You can find the complete series in Miyoko Ihara’s  book, Misao the Big Mama and Fukumaru the Cat. The book can be purchased directly through Little More Books. (via Before it’s News)

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