Bye Bye Little Boy by Adrian Favell

Bye Bye Little Boy is an article written by Adrian Favell (interestingly the same person who gave a lecture on 4 new waves of Japanese art) It compares and discusses Bye Bye Kitty & Little Boy (both which I explored before, click the links to see).

Read full article here

*I’ve just realised that Adrian Favell also wrote ‘Before and after superflat‘ a book which explores J-Art. It seems that this is the man to talk to about Japanese contemporary art.

Adrian Favell writes on both Bye Bye Kitty & Little Boy…

David Elliott, the independent curator of “Bye Bye Kitty,” suggests in the show’s catalogue that Murakami’s ironic attitude toward the trashy and risqué was meant to be a homeopathy for the country’s passive-aggressive postwar psyche, dominated by U.S. popular culture as much as by its military power.


In truth, major women artists in Japan are still less numerous than men, although the art world there is increasingly influenced by women curators and dealers. And female artists, empowered by picking up cameras since the early 1990s, have recently featured as leaders in Japan’s cutting-edge photography scene. Elliott has selected two other formally distinct exemplars, Rinko Kawauchi and Tomoko Yoneda. Kawauchi shares something of the throwaway esthetic of Japan’s popular “girly photography”—street snaps of everyday scenes or objects made by girls with handheld cameras. Her work, like theirs, was produced first for best-selling books, not gallery walls. Yoneda, on the other hand, is a cerebral conceptualist who uses documentary research and carefully composed images to capture the absence left behind after history moves on from locations of great violence or drama: here, a series of almost blank photos taken in an abandoned South Korean military headquarters.

Rinko Kawauchi
Tomoko Yoneda

The fact is that, however brilliant contemporary art may be in Japan, it will go international only if there are cultural entrepreneurs who are smart and energetic enough to make it happen. This was Murakami’s great success, in alliance with his Western curators, dealers, collectors and fans. Back home in Japan, many people are tired of playing the global game. Murakami is famous there, yes; but he is neither loved nor much respected. Increasingly, the Japanese contemporary art world is content to simply talk to itself. And, despite what is implied in the catalogue foreword by the Japan Society’s president, Motoatsu Sakurai, the “Bye Bye Kitty” artists are not the next generation after Murakami. There is nothing new or fresh about Aida and Yanagi, or even Odani and Nawa. They have been around for years, working without much international recognition. For some of these very fine Japanese artists, it may be now or never.



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