We Heart Japan 2015
Azusa Pacific University
Duke and Heritage Galleries
701 E. Foothill Blvd.
Azusa, CA 91702
Artists: Johnnie JungleGuts, Jay Lizo, James Melinat, Alisa Ochoa, Ruby Osorio, Steven Putz, Colin Roberts
Exhibition dates: Sept. 12th – Oct. 2nd
Artist reception on Saturday Sept. 19th from 4 – 6 p.m.
Gallery hours are Mon – Fri10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Japonisme is alive and well in Los Angeles. This exhibition is about Japanese influence on contemporary artists from Los Angeles. Six of the artists currently live in Los Angeles while one has since migrated to New York. Japanese cultural influence in Los Angeles has been represented through various neighborhoods (Little Tokyo, Sawtelle St., and Gardena), institutions (Japanese American Museum and Japanese Pavilion at LACMA), and exhibitions (Superflat and Takashi Murakami at MOCA). Japonisme has also influenced an earlier generation of Los Angelino artists such as Joe Goode, Sam Francis, and Kenny Price. This show demonstrates that Japonisme has continued on through a younger generation of artists. Japonisme has not only been a Eurocentric appropriation, but an multicultural appropriation as well. Some of the artists come from Latin, Thai, Filipino, and Native American ancestry. This is reflection of the diverse cross-pollination in Los Angeles that has produced idiosyncratic work. Each artist has found some connection to Japomisme via Los Angeles. My personal connection to Japan was my first visit to Osaka in 1998. Since then, I’ve found myself reliving those memories in small increments when traveling around Los Angeles. My appreciation for Japan continued while I was working for Joe Goode as an artist assistant. While working for Joe Goode, his wife Hiromi Katayama would educate me in Japanese culture. This led me to make a series of works based on the prints of Hiroshige. I would also find similar connections to other artists that shared a similar interest.
Some examples from the exhibition are James Melinat’s Origami drawings and paintings. James draws texts, which are taken from Japanese death poems, onto the surfaces of the objects. James cool, geometric, and melancholy drawings are a contrast to Stiz Putz’s transcription piece of the film Suicide Circle. By transcribing the dialogue of the film, the artist forces viewers to imagine the sequence of invents. Both artists deploy text about death but from different attitudes. Ruby Osorio’s atmospheric drawings are a hybrid of landscape, form, and patterns fusing into one picture plane. Ruby layers patterns reminiscent Japanese kimonos with imagery she’s has developed growing up in Los Angeles. Alisa Ochoa sculptures use Japanese techniques and aesthetic principles form the foundation for her otherworldly ceramics. Her creations push the ancient medium to dance between Pop and Kogei (traditional craft). Johnnie JungleGuts and Colin Roberts use Japanese Pop as their point of departure. Johnnie JungleGuts has created an archive of Pokémon drawings, resulting in a large wall installation of over 500 drawings. Colin Roberts’s sculptures reflect the dreamlike characters depicted in many of Studio Ghiblli films. These are a few examples of how these artists are creating a dialogue with Japan through their work.
We Heart Japan 2015