japanese art, design and culture
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Japanese History According to Akira Yamaguchi

yamaguchi Show the Flag“Show the Flag” by Akira Yamaguchi | image courtesy muddy colors | click to enlarge

yamaguchi Show the Flag (detail)“Show the Flag” (detail) by Akira Yamaguchi | image courtesy muddy colors | click to enlarge

Akira Yamaguchi is a Japanese artist classically trained in traditional Japanese painting (Yamato-e). He has mastered an incredibly refined style of the old Japanese masters, creating large-scale, detailed oil and watercolor paintings.

However, his works require 2nd and even 3rd looks as you will most certainly see something you didn’t expect. Yamaguchi’s paintings are filled with humorous symbols and cynical jokes that create a complex narrative critiquing history. He appropriates a 17th century style but embeds the works with his own modern, fantastical elements. “Show the Flag” (above) depicts men going off to battle with archaic weapons but also with motorbikes, rifles and missile launchers.

yamaguchi People Working (detail)“People Working” (detail) by Akira Yamaguchi | image courtesy muddy colors | click to enlarge

yamaguchi In Flames (Horyuji)“In Flames” by Akira Yamaguchi | image courtesy muddy colors | click to enlarge

yamaguchi Five Warriors“Five Warriors” by Akira Yamaguchi | image courtesy muddy colors | click to enlarge

yamaguchi Tokei- Hiroo and Roppongi( detail)“Hiroo and Roppongi” (detail) by Akira Yamaguchi | image courtesy muddy colors | click to enlarge

yamaguchi Approach To The Shrine“Approach to the Shrine” by Akira Yamaguchi | image courtesy muddy colors

Yamaguchi had a pretty great 2012. He staged a solo exhibition in Tokyo and participated in a group show on contemporary Japanese art in Moscow. And just last month a book of his recent work was published – the first of its kind in 8 years. I’m hoping to see more of him in 2013.

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Top: front and back cover of Yamaguchi’s new book. Below: 2 spreads from his new book.
images courtesy Yoshio Suzuki | click to enlarge

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1 comment

1 Nathan { 01.04.13 at 1:44 pm }

Hah! I love these anachronisms.