FIRST LOOK | KEIICHI TANAAMI’S “DEATH BRIDGE” AT AISHO NANZUKA, HONG KONG
Godfather and elder statesman of Japanese psychedelia Keiichi Tanaami has unleashed a new wave of eye-melting new works with Aisho Nanzuka Gallery in Aberdeen, Hong Kong last nite during Art Basel Hong Kong week. Provocatively titled Death Bridge, the exhibition presented two distinct series of recent works with the first series of paintings based on the original drawings of his animation from the 1970s, incorporating such then-topical themes as Marilyn Monroe, John & Yoko, etc., that implicates his baptism by pop art in ‘60s, and the influence animators such as Osamu Tezuka and Walt Disney—who the artist admired since his childhood—had on his work
The second series of paintings represent his 70 year-long personal history, forming a sort of autobiographical mandala comprised of visual motifs drawn from Tanaami´s childhood experience of war. In these detailed psychedelic scenes glowing grotesque creatures are personifications of bombs and the light from their explosions while beams of light stretching outward recall the searchlights of Japanese troops keeping watch for American bomber planes. Skeletal monsters that appear in his works represent both those injured in the war as well as our selves, unaware of the true horrors of war. Goldfish-like characters also often appear in Tanami´s work and are a motif deeply tied to a scene from Tanaami´s memory etched permanently in his mind— the image of light from the bombs reflecting off the scales of his grandfather´s goldfish.
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