City Glow


At the MFAH in Houston, you can see an exhibit of the artistic origins of Japanese anime.  This still is from a short film by Chiho Aoshima, done in collaboration with Bruce Ferguson.  In Aoshima’s work, we see an amalgamation of pop art, anime, manga, and the Japanese "cult of cuteness" (think Hello Kitty).  Here is a summary from the MFAH website about the history leading up to work included in this exhibit.

In 1996 Tokyo artist Takashi Murakami established
the Hiropon Factory (later renamed Kaikai Kiki), a studio dedicated to
producing his increasingly large-scale sculptures and paintings.
Working with a select group of extraordinarily talented young
assistants, Murakami promoted a fresh approach to art and commerce. His
efforts produced a dynamic new wave of Japanese Pop, embracing the
pictorial style of manga (comic books) and anime (cartoons), all within the spirit of kawaii or
cuteness. Japanese Pop has since become one of the most vital currents
in today´s international scene and many of Murakami´s assistants have
emerged as important artists in their own right.


Chiho Aoshima began working with Murakami in the late 1990s, and in
1999 she began to exhibit independently as well. Using the computer as
a compositional tool, Aoshima realizes her images freely in various
media, including sculpture, mural design, prints, clothing, and, in
collaboration with animator Bruce Ferguson, video. Her imagery draws
upon traditional Japanese scroll paintings as well as contemporary
sources, blending landscape and narrative to create a vision of our
planet´s potential for both creation and chaos.


City Glow, 2005, is both monumental and playfully engaging.
Spanning five monitors, it opens in a garden, filled with fantastic
foliage and creatures. Slowly a modern city with living skyscrapers
grows from this Edenic paradise, and then as night falls, nature takes
over once again. Aoshima populates this landscape with both the forces
of good and evil: a graveyard filled with demonic ghosts is ultimately
banished by fairytale spirits and a new dawn.


Aoshima´s poetic evolutionary cycle can be understood as a commentary on the perils of global warming.  Ultimately, however, City Glow
offers a promise of hope and regeneration. Aoshima´s witty animation is
a delight to all ages, uniting the vivid graphic conventions of
contemporary anime with ancient traditions in Japanese art and thought.

1 comment

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: