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Urban Sensitivity: Seven Contemporary Japanese Artists

M Wakasa Presents at Gallery Onetwentyeight
October 15 – November 8, 2009

Fuck the Furries. This show goes one better. If the Furries were sexual misfits who couldn’t cuddle up (or “yiff”) without first dressing up as foxes, raccoons, rabbits and bears, converting whole hotels into dens and lairs for their unconventional conventions, prosthetic artist Yuukyuusai here trades her original face for a second nature.

Yuukyuusai, "Six-Banded Armadillo" (2008). Mixed media.

Her towering hand-sewn labor-intensive “Six-Banded Armadillo” patrolled the streets of downtown Tokyo like some silly Godzilla in an out-of-date Sci-Fi film about the future. Fear what I say! Costumed head-to-toe in a onesie, including tail, with sequined footies, Yuukyuusai did not merely don one more painted paper parade dragon but instead became a Neomorph, an ontologically new life form. Though thoroughly therianthropic she shows no signs of perverse paraphelias such as “babyfurs,” macrophelia (love of giants) or voraphelia (the love of being eaten.) Nor does she yiff.

Commencing an eternal rendezvous, Tetsuomi Sukeda took a vow to photograph one woman only, since they met five years ago. In his single work exhibited she appears seated while easel-painting-framed, yet the artist webbed her portrait with winding-sheets of white wax, effecting a low-budget Gothic mood à la Roger Corman’s Poe, hyperbolic porno jizz, or saltwater taffy.

The bride stripped bare, Kei Takemura shrouds fractured household objects of opaque personal worth in bandages of hazy gauze, “renovating” cracked glass (no chocolate grinder) by refitting them as knockoffs of traditional Kintsugi gilt restoration. Her pictures can be said to sift sad algorithms through translation software that rewrite Freud on dreams.

Takashi Usui’s ominous inkblots reconsider Rorschach, blood clots, vampire bats. Executed obsessively on notebook paper with a ballpoint pen his redoubled efforts incise scarification. Similarly employing ordinary ballpoint pens Tsubasa Takahashi suborns classic kimono design by lifting its cloud, flower, and night sea motifs surreptitiously off comics and animation’s backgrounds. Compulsion rules, too, in Taiyo Kimura’s work. Focusing on eyes, he carves sur-surrealistic wormholes into fashion magazines tunneling through stacked pages to expose unnerving strata.

Hazard this a Futurist show—would it be past, post, or future Futurism? Kazuki Umezawa cuts, condenses then collides innumerable imperceptible Internet images in lurid hues from bruise to fruit. Jaundice, lime, Bazooka Joe home in on his cyber hives, re(as)sembling the urban neon night’s retinal haymow.

The unknown is an exception; the known is a deception.

Mako Wakasa is a rogue gallerist or true urban nomad renting various venues such as ping pong parlors and even an inside drive-in movie theater, storefronts from which she has mounted commendably independent shows for four years in Tokyo and on New York City’s Lower East Side.


Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle

Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle is an American poet and art critic. He lives in Paris and New York City.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2009

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