Mr., “Sunset in My Heart”

Art, Contemporary art
2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

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The Japanese artist known only as Mr. claims that the 2011 Tohoku earthquake exercised a deep impact on his practice, prompting him to move away from a preoccupation with the sexualized aspects of manga culture toward a more nuanced emotional and political approach. But there’s little evidence of any such let’s-get-serious reappraisal in Mr.’s latest New York outing, which the artist—dressed as a uniformed schoolgirl—launched with a discordant bout of sake-fueled karaoke. In 11 new paintings, Mr. stirs his familiar saucer-eyed cuties into a multicolored abstract and typographic stew that suggests a continued escape into pubescence.

Which isn’t to say that Mr. hasn’t tried to evolve beyond the Superflat aesthetic of his mentor, Takashi Murakami, who’s been dubbed the “Warhol of Japan.” While the latter is known for the Koonsian slickness of his ultra-high-end productions, Mr.’s work is distinguished by the use of dirty, distressed canvases, patched together in homage to Arte Povera and its veneration of the everyday. Given that Mr. frames his cartoonish Pop tarts as universal emissaries of hope, such humble backdrops seem appropriate; whether the ill-proportioned characters that populate them necessarily live up to Mr.’s claims is another matter.

By: Michael Wilson



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