The Japanese artist who goes by the name Feebee is an illustrator by trade. But a self-taught one. She’s been helping create advertisements, CD jackets, characters and other forms of illustration since 2002. And her neo-Japonesque style of bold colors and delicate lines that form her primarily female subjects have won over countless fans. But it wasn’t until relatively recently that she pivoted in her career and began creating paintings as well.
At an exhibition in New York I recently stumbled upon Feebee’s artwork. And I couldn’t stop looking. It was her first exhibition in NY and one of her first escapades outside Japan. She had created 3 paintings based on the Three Wise Monkeys, with each representing “hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil.” But a closer look at her paintings reveal patterns and miniature worlds that beckon second, third and fourth looks.
In fact, the closer you look, the more you see. Baby monkeys drink from the breast while a waterfall pours into one monkey’s lap creating a profound image of the cycle of life. An ornamental ball sits on one monkey’s head broken, but then repaired using the art of kintsugi, which emphasizes beauty in imperfection. The rear end of one monkey glows bright red, as they do in Japan during mating season.
The beauty in Feebee’s artwork lies in its ability to be as over or under-analyzed as the viewer chooses. One can simply marvel at the deft details, as I did. But the paintings also hold up under intense scrutiny. See them for yourself either online or in person at the group exhibition “TENGAI 3.0” on view at hpgrp gallery in New York through November 19, 2016.
TENGAI 3.0 was curated by Hisashi Tenmyouya, an established artist in his own right, and features works by Hajime Sorayama, Hiroaki Ito, Miki Kato and others.