The Quirky, ‘Futile’ Art of Gendai Bijutsu Nitohey

the Daruma is typically a symbol of good luck, but in the hands of Gendai Bijutsu Nitohey it becomes the anti-daruma with greased-back pompadour and facial hair

In the world of Japanese snacks there are kashi, and dagashi. The latter are the cheaper, penny candies; the lesser yet equally beloved snacks that can be bought with pocket change. Dagashi is derived from the Japanese words da (駄, meaning ‘futile’).  Japanese art duo Gendai Bijutsu Nitouhey create dagashi of the art world – what they call, dabijutsu.

traditional kokeshi dolls become dumbells

Always full of inside jokes, Shane Kagotani and Katsuhito Fujiwara, the two artists behind Gendai Bijutsu Nitouhey, have been making their humorous art for an astounding 25 years. So it’s understandable that they’ve amassed quite a portfolio of sculptures, paintings and objects. A retrospective of their work was on display recently in Kanazawa at the Shiinoki Cultural Complex. Titled Dabijyutsu Hyakumangoku, the title borrows from an annual local festival that celebrates rice production and references the sheer volume of artwork that could be counted in measurements for rice.

Where the duo particularly excels is taking pre-existing elements of Japanese culture and remixing them in imaginative ways that make you stare, think for a moment, and then chuckle. Here are some of our favorites.  

sushi is sometimes presented on a plate shaped like a boat but in this instance an unfortunate accident appears to have befallen the dish
a katorisenko mosquito coil, except it’s shaped like Peru’s Hummingbird geoglyph
canned seafood rings
a zen rock garden but one that’s better suited for napping rather than meditating

1 Comment

  1. So where can I buy that daruma?

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