Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Painting for Joy!

The QUT Art Museum recently held an exhibition of contemporary Japanese painting called Painting for Joy. It included Nara Yoshitomo, whose work I really enjoy. I have a wall in my house covered in his prints. He paints what at first look like sweet wide-eyed little children in a kind of manga or anime style, but on closer inspection many of them are carrying knives and saws, smoking cigarettes and looking very grumpy and evil indeed! They are sweet, funny, sad and disturbing all at once! The innocent child with the seemingly adult qualities of evil and apprehension!

When I first went to university (many moons ago!) I did a degree in Asian studies and majored in Japanese language and culture. When I graduated I went and lived in Osaka for a year to teach English, study Japanese and drink lots of beer. Ceramics was nowhere on my radar in those days. Unbelievably, the whole thing passed me by! I did come home with a lovely teapot some friends gave me for my 21st, but apart from that it just didn't register. But I guess somehow it must have been filtering through, and when I did eventually wake up and make the coffee cup, Japanese ceramics and the Japanese aesthetic had a very big influence on me, and still does. I still find myself very drawn to Japanese art, both traditional and contemporary.

Nara Yoshitomo also makes these great plates (well, they're plate-like) - he gets an extra tick for that! I'm obsessed by plates at the moment. I keep going to op shops and antique stores and buying plates. There's a new work developing there somewhere....

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