Friday, August 28, 2009

Amano Galaxy Exhibit

A couple of days ago, I listed the art exhibits that I knew about that are running in Japan right now. On Thursday, I attended 2 more of them (having already seen the 30 years of mecha drawings, and the Shonen Sunday-Shonen Magajin shows). Then, on Friday, one more exhibit was listed in the Japan Times - Kazuo Umezu x Contemporary Ukiyo-e. This last one is at GAoh! in Shimo-Kitazawa, near my apartment. Umezz is well-known for his horror manga, and "The Drifting Classroom" has been translated in the U.S. No idea how Umezz and Ukiyo-e fit together, but it's probably not going to be a pretty thing. ;-)



Anyway, I'll write up the Amano event here, because it's the one with the shortest run time. Yoshitaka Amano is probably best known in the U.S. as the character designer for the Final Fantasy games, but he's also done character work for Time Bokan, Gatchaman and Vampire Hunter D. He's definitely getting the star artist treatment - some of his signed works were on display in a kind of art gallery setting at the UDX building a few months back, and some of his other stuff was shown at the 101Tokyo art design event (also at the UDX).

The last big show at the UDX was called "Amano Cosmos". The new one at the Omotesando Hills shopping space near Harajuku is "Amano Galaxy". It's not really one of the better shows and "microcosm" might have been a better name for it.



It's almost like Amano's losing his touch. It was a big, flashy show, with formal, well-behaved security staff everywhere, headsets for listening to the commentary about the works, and a kind of movie theater storefront. Inside, the space was set up in one large room with a circular room in the middle, about 30 feet in diameter. The walls of the larger square room were lined with about 30 pieces, mostly automobile paint on steel, which seems to be his medium of choice these days. A few of the bigger pieces were fantasy-based and very conceptual, but not all that attractive. The smaller ones were portraits of the Time Bokan villainess, the Gatchaman hero, and a nameless second guy with a square chin and lots of muscles. You can see most of the artwork in the spinning gallery on Amano's webpage.

Most of his female characters have developed huge eyes and baby-like faces that make them look blobby and unattractive. One of the unnamed hero portraits ("Hero 2") looks very aggressive and battle-ready, but a second portrait of the same character looks like his botox shots turned bad.

Inside the circular room, there's a single painting on a piece of canvas about 10 feet high and maybe 40 feet long. It's a huge mural that's just covered with characters, fantasy beings, and plant-life. It's a very busy piece, and not all of the acrylic paint fills in all the lines. It looks great from a distance, but when you get close it seems kind of rushed.


(From the TV screen next to the gift shop_

Outside, the exhibit shop offers post cards, cell phone strap charms, gallery art books and the like. Some of the items are fairly pricey and might increase in collector's value over time. There were 3 people walking around in the exhibit area, and another 5 or so at the shop. A fairly light attendance, although it was 1 PM on a Thursday.

Overall, unless you're a really hardcore Amano fan, or looking to drop a few thousand dollars on one of his works, this exhibit isn't really worth the 1000 yen ($10) entrance fee. You're better off just going to the shop and buying one of his art books for 2000-3000 yen. Or, grab some of the pics off his website. The show runs until Aug. 31.

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