masahisa fukase’s best known work was made while reeling from loss of love. after thirteen years of marriage, his wife yoko left him. while on a train returning to his hometown of hokkaido, perhaps feeling unlucky and ominous, fukase got off at stops and began to photograph something which in his culture and in others represents inauspicious feeling: ravens. he became obsessed with them, with their darkness and loneliness. his photographs capture them midflight; crouched in trees at dusk with glowing eyes; and singularly and spectacularly depressingly dead, in cold deep snow. in the forward to the book published of this work, akira hasegawa writes, “masahisa fukase’s work can be deemed to have reached its supreme height; it can also be said to have fallen to its greatest depth. the solitude revealed in this collection of images is sometimes so painful that we want to avert our eyes from it.
I was quite taken tonight by the cover of Criterion’s re-issue of Paul Schrader’s Mishima. Interestingly, from what I’ve found online, not everyone approves, my favourite pan being “this thing reminds me of the make-up gun that Homer invented in that Simpsons episode.”
The design is by Tadanori Yokoo, a Japanese graphic designer, illustrator, printmaker and painter who was not just a contemporary of Mishima’s but also a friend and collaborator (he actually makes a brief appearance in the movie). All of which makes his contribution of the DVD art appropriate not to mention that his design and art are fantastic. A decent survey of his work can be found with a Flickr search.
For some time now, I have been on the lookout for examples of Japanese street art. The uncanny means by which Japan adapts Western culture, reprocesses it and then spins it out as something altogether hyperreal, combined with the ever-prevalent superflat movement suggested that there must exist something extraordinary in the darker corners of the Tokyo streets.
So it was great to read PingMag’s recent piece on The Ghetto, a former love hotel in Shin-Okubo that has been converted into a skater shop/graffiti space. The article also provided links to flickr groups on Tokyo Street Art and throughout Japan. But I found what I was truly looking for in the calligraphy of designer/artist USUGROW which is an incredible hybrid of not just Western and Japanese scripts but also Arabic influences. Kakkoii desu yo!
Playing online companion to the retrospective exhibition on Takashi Murakami that is currently showing at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, an eight part exhibit tour with the artist himself + bonus videos including the making of the Oval Buddha.