An axis for artistic and creative-types of the Asian persuasian… Redefining Otaku Culture.

Artist re-imagines political bigwigs as fearsome mechanized transforming robots

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RocketNews 24 (by KK Miller):

The leaders of countries are like super heroes on the political world stage to some people. So why not envision them as Autobots, the heroes of the Transformers franchise?

Artist Gunduz Agayev has transformed a number of the world’s political leaders with his art, mashing together heads of state with instantly recognizable vehicles from their country. The floor of the UN national assembly would be very different if everyone could transform into these alien robots.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin

President of USA Barack Obama

President of Turkey Erdogan

Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

Queen Elizabeth (United Kingdom)

Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei

 

Exhibit in Kyoto features collaboration of anime and 400-year-old Rinpa school of painting

 

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RocketNews 24 (by Kay):

This is what happens when you combine centuries-old traditional Japanese painting with modern anime, and we love it!

If you’re interested in traditional Japanese art, you may be familiar with the Rinpa school of painting, which has a history that can be traced all the way back to the 17th century. It so happens that this year marks the 400th anniversary since one of the school’s founders, Hon’ami Kōetsu, established an artistic community (geijutsumura) in the Takagamine area of Kyoto, and an exciting commemorative event titled the “Rinpa x Anime Homage Exhibit” is now going on in the very same city of Kyoto, courtesy of brilliant artwork produced by the anime/comic merchandise retailer CHARA-ANI.

But before we go on, here’s a little bit more background on Rinpa art. The Rinpa school, which has a heavy emphasis on painting but also includes other crafts such as ceramics and lacquerware as well as calligraphy, is thought to have been founded by Hon’ami Kōetsu and Tawaraya Sōtatsu around the early 17th century and later consolidated in the latter half of the century by the prominent artist brothers  Ogata Kōrin and Ogata Kenzan. The name Rinpa is actually a combination of the last syllable of Kōrin’s name and the word “pa” for school.

The school’s art style is known for its bold design compositions, use of silver and gold leaf in the background, and repeated use of recognizable patterns. While natural scenes including flowers and trees are often depicted, animals and people from folktales are also common subjects, like the deities depicted in the famous ”Wind and Thunder Gods” folding screens (Fūjin Raijin-zu) by Sōtatsu.

▼ The magnificent Wind and Thunder Gods folding screen by Sōtatsu:

Fujin

So, taking all of that into consideration, we think you’ll understand why we might be excited by the idea of a collaboration between anime and the Rinpa school, which has a history of producing such notable works of art. And what’s attracting particular attention in this “Rinpa x Anime Homage Exhibit” are the works featuring the long-loved characters created by the manga master Osamu Tezuka himself!

The glittering gold and silver, along with the texture of Japanese paper, have turned Tezuka’s characters into breathtaking, timeless works of art.

▼ Here’s Tezuka’s phoenix (Hi no Tori), a perfect subject for Rinpa-style art, depicted in brilliant gold.

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▼ The father and son lion duo from Kimba the White Lion (Jungle Taitei) looks full of life in this piece.

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In addition to the collaboration with Tezuka anime, you’ll also be able to see on display Rinpa-style art featuring the busy-as-ever Hello Kitty, as well as characters from Lucky Star (Raki☆Suta).

The best part is that you can actually order and purchase some of these illustrations at the exhibit, and they apparently have some stationery and smartphone accessories on sale as well.

The Rinpa x Anime Homage Exhibit will run at the Kyoto Loft department store in the Mina Kyoto shopping complex until January 17, 2016 (except for January 1, when Mina Kyoto will be closed). It could be a fun destination for art and anime fans who are in Kyoto for the new year!

Source: CHARA-ANI websitePR TIMES press release

Ai Weiwei gifts politically charged “Letgo Room” LEGO installation to the National Gallery in Melbourne

Ai Weiwei Gifts Politically Charged “Letgo Room” to the NGV Melbourne
Ai Weiwei at National Gallery of Victoria exhibition Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei has gifted his major new installation “Letgo Room” 2015 to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). The NGV commissioned the work for its Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei exhibition which opened on December 11 and continues until April 24, 2016.

BlouinArtinfo:

Created using more than two million plastic Lego bricks, the installation comprises twenty portraits Australian activists, advocates and champions of human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of information and freedom of the internet.

Ai established collection points for the Lego bricks around the world earlier in the year, including one at the NGV, after Lego refused to supply him with bricks because the company “cannot approve the use of Legos for political works.”

Portrait subjects include Julian Assange, Geoffrey Robertson QC, Peter Greste, Professor Gillian Triggs, Rosie Batty, The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, Archie Roach, Julian Burnside AO QC and Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, among others from a wide range of different fields.

Constructed on the artist’s behalf by a team of almost 100 local volunteers and arts students, the work “attests to Ai’s long-standing commitment to freedom of expression and human rights,” according to the NGV.

Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei includes more 120 than works by Ai Weiwei and over 200 works by Andy Warhol, exploring the full scope of both artists’ practice. The exhibition is presented in association with The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, with the participation of Ai Weiwei Studio.

Nissan builds an origami car to celebrate the fifth birthday of its Juke crossover

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RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

It’s been five years since Nissan launched its compact Juke SUV/crossover, and the company is celebrating with a very special fifth anniversary edition: a full-size origami model.

Oftentimes, auto manufacturers will mark the round-number birthdays of their best-sellers with a special paint color or extra badging. Nissan, though, instead enlisted English origami artist Owen Gildersleeve to make a paper Juke to commemorate the milestone.

▼ The regular/metallic juke

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Unfortunately, this special car is a one-off, so you won’t find one waiting in the inventory lot of your local Nissan dealer. But if we ever find ourselves in the market for a Juke, and if Nissan is offering “origami” as a factory option at that time, we’ll be tempted to check that box when placing our order.

Owen Gildersleeve website

‘Giant Robot Biennale 4’ to showcase Asian pop culture at the Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles)

Many people complain about something lacking from their lives, but few actually do anything about it. Eric Nakamura is different. He has not only filled that gap, he has created a new movement.

Nakamura is the creator of Giant Robot, now a store with a sister gallery in Los Angeles, which spurred an ever-growing interest in Asian and Asian American pop culture. He is also the curator of the exhibit, “Giant Robot Biennale 4,” set to open Oct. 11 at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. Giant Robot began as a ‘zine, covering Nakamura’s interests, such as live action robot shows, kung fu films, imported toys and international foods.

I grew up with a mix of both cultures (American and Asian) and I didn’t see a publication out there that documented that kind of hybrid,” Nakamura said.

After being deluged by readers asking if they could visit the Giant Robot office to see the products advertised in the ‘zine, Nakamura decided to open a store. Then he took his hybrid idea a step further by also using the space to exhibit art.

Today, some 21 years and a plethora of copycat store/galleries later, Nakamura still shrugs the notion of success. However, he credits Giant Robot’s longevity to his devotion to fairness and honesty.

The culture of Giant Robot is an artist family experience, which is different. We do things contrary to how a gallery would do things,” Nakamura said.

The exhibit, which runs through Jan. 24, is the fourth time Giant Robot and JANM have united for an art exhibit.

Asian and Asian American pop art has exploded in popularity,” said JANM president and CEO Greg Kimura. “Giant Robot really is the premiere example of that. It’s bringing some of these known and some of these rising artists to the public consciousness and, because of that, JANM is becoming known as a place where folks can come to discover very interesting and frequently provocative contemporary art.

Nakamura has divided “Giant Robot Biennale 4” inside JANM, devoting the ground floor to drawings, including comics, ‘zines and sketchbooks, and showing art from a range of disciplines upstairs.

Two large murals by Andrew Hem and kozyndan will also be featured in the exhibit, as well as work by artists, such as James Jean, Jim Lee, Kim Jung Gi, Katsuya Terada, Luke Chueh, Audrey KawasakiNathan Ota, Mu Pan and Yoskay Yamamoto.

In addition, there will be a photography installation from Hamburger Eyes.

Nakamura finds it hard to name a favorite artist, but he admits that he roots for “the underdogs who are working extra hard.” An example of this is Yumi Sakugawa, whose work can be seen in ‘zines and comics. There will be a video installation featuring a ‘zine reading by Sakugawa.

Kimura is also a big fan of Edwin Ushiro, citing the artist as “someone to watch.”

He’s huge right now, but he’s growing even bigger as a national and international artist,” Kimura added.

There will be a replica of Ushiro’s studio on site in which visitors will be invited to draw.

Kimura also likes Rob Sato’s technical ability and admires the shocking imagery of Mari Inukai, stating that the artists makes you feel differently about the world around you, as well as art itself.

“I like to think that Giant Robot has established a culture of some sort that maybe changed the landscape a little bit of what art is and then what a shop is like and what culture can be,” Nakamura said. “These are things that I grew up with that were separate and we unified and turned it into a package of some sort.

Want to go?

When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday-Sunday and noon-8 p.m. Thursday from Oct. 11-Jan. 24. Free opening celebration 7-10 p.m.

Where: Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles.

Tickets: $9 adults, $5 seniors and children 6-17 and free for children 5 and younger.

Information: 213-625-0414, www.janm.org

Also, check out the Giant Robot Store!

Giant Robot Store

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-7 p.m. Sunday.

Where: 2015 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles.

Information: 310-478-1819, www.giantrobot.com

GR2 Gallery

Hours: Noon-6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, noon-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon-7 p.m. Sunday.

Where: 2062 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles.

Information: 424-246-7626, www.giantrobot.com

“Welcome Home” by Esao Andrews will be on exhibit in “Giant Robot Biennale 4” at the Japanese American Naitonal Museum in Los Angeles Oct. 11-Jan. 24.

Bandai to release life-like posable plastic figures to help you draw “realistic” epic poses

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RocketNews 24 (by Scott Wilson):

It seems like Bandai really wants us to get better at drawing. First they released the totally awesome and totally-not-just-for-kids Magic Illustrator, and now they’ve announced that they will be selling life-like posable figures for all of your human-sketching needs.

And what’s more, these figures come with dozens of sweet accessories, making it easier than ever to draw a someone wielding a sword, a deadly cellphone, or their own awesome lightning fists. Ready to never again lose friends by asking them to hold a pose while you carefully draw it? Then read on!

Now for those of you who haven’t done much life-drawing before, you may wonder: why would you need plastic models? Can’t you just draw without them?

And the answer to that is a resounding… well, er, uh, kind of. Some great artists can rattle off drawings of people no problem. But for the rest of us, it helps to have a model to work off, especially if you’re drawing something that doesn’t typically happen in everyday life.

▼ It’d be hard to model this scene without someone breaking their neck, but the posable figures make it easy to sketch.making_img

The posable figures themselves are being produced by S. H. Figuarts, a maker of high-quality Japanese plastic figures. They come in two varieties, male and female, appropriately named Body-kun and Body-chan.”

What sets these figures apart from other posable art models before is that these ones are built to only bend in natural human ways. This means you can’t accidentally put the figure into an unnatural pose, which could potentially mess up your sketch. And since they bend in over 30 places, you can get a lot more detail than from other similar products.

The figures also come with a variety of accessories and interchangeable parts, making it much easier to see what certain hand positions look like when interacting with objects.

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And the possibilities don’t end there. Here’s what people all over the internet have been doing to show off the unlimited potential of working with Body-kun and Body-chan:

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body-chan computer

body-chan angel

body-chan kicking

body-chan lightning

If you think Body-kun and Body-chan would make good additions to your artistic arsenal, then be sure to check back in April 2016 when they’re officially released. The models range in price from 4,320 yen to 6,480 yen (US$36 to $54) depending on how many accessories it comes with.

Designer Yusuke Seki constructs a walkable platform made from 25,000 ceramic pots, bowls, and cups

Yusuke Seki - Ceramics

Beautiful Decay (by Hayley Evans):

Tokyo-based designer Yusuke Seki has constructed a stunning, walkable platform made from 25,000 pieces of scrapped pottery and porcelain. The structure is part of the Maruhiro Ceramics gallery, located in Hasami, Nagasaki prefecture, a region known for its production and distribution of tableware dating back to the 17th century. Each fragment was collected from local factories that had disposed the ceramics prior to the glazing process, deeming them defective. After restoring the pieces and assembling them like bricks mixed with poured concrete, Seki infuses them with a renewed creative purpose. A statement from Seki’s website further explains the history and the design approach that drives the platform:

“A renovation of the pre-existing flagship shop, Yusuke Seki’s design marries an architectural knowledge to the artisanal know-how of the region, and in so doing, creates an entirely location- and situation-specific experience. Seki’s vision is to posit the designer as interpreter. His methods seek to amplify Hasami’s heritage by drawing out and translating the potential of the complete local environment, unifying its people. A minimal design interference, a modification in the level of the floor, not only utilizes the pre-existing space to alter the perspective and experiences held by the users until the present, but also gives birth to an entirely new sense of flow within.”

In a fascinating exploration of space, Seki has designed the stacked ceramics so that they enhance the customer’s interaction with the displayed tableware. Low shelves placed on the surface allow visitors to peruse from below, and if they so wish, they can climb up the stairs to the top of the platform for a closer look. The very act of walking on the ceramics creates an embodied experience of tradition and history; delicate materials, once discarded, are made strong, creative, and participatory, signifying the endurance of and respect for a time-honored cultural art form.

Visit Seki’s website to view more of his works.

Yusuke Seki - Ceramics

Yusuke Seki - Ceramics

Yusuke Seki - Ceramics