Tag Archives: seattle art

Asian Art Museum: ‘Live On: Mr.’s Japanese Neo-Pop’

Live On: Mr.’s Japanese Neo-Pop

Nov 22 2014 – Apr 5 2015

Asian Art Museum

Tateuchi Galleries

The devastating disaster of the March 11, 2011 tsunami and the nuclear accident afterwards were both a shock and inspiration for Japanese Neo-Pop artist Mr. In response, he composed a massive installation made of hundreds of everyday objects from Japanese life. It’s the central work in this exhibition, presented here with a series of new paintings and other work. A reminder of the debris that blanketed the Tohoku area in the aftermath of 3.11 tsunami and earthquake, the installation embodies the post-disaster fear and frustration of the Japanese people since the catastrophic events.

Live On, which is organized by SAM, presents Mr.’s art of the past 15 years and is his first solo exhibition in a U.S. museum. Born in 1969, Mr. is a protégé of Takashi Murakami, internationally acclaimed icon of Japanese Pop art. He borrowed the name “Mr.” from “Mister Giants” (Shigeo Nagashima), the superstar clean-up hitter of the postwar Yomiuri Giants baseball team.

Having grown up during Japan’s postwar “economic miracle” period, Mr. often exercises his art as a weapon against social expectations. As a member of the otaku subculture, his work ties closely with the lifestyle, which is marked by obsessive interests in anime and manga and being confined in one’s room with limited interactions with other people. He says,

I’ve had one eye on anime since the day I was born.

The exhibition includes a group of Mr.’s new works that take kawaii (cute) Japanese Pop art to a new dimension, known as moe (which literally means budding). Through fictional, adorable characters, moe speaks to a longing for youth, or youthful energy. It grew out of Japanese youth subculture, and its rebellion against authority and political engagement in favor of fantasy and virtual experience.

While Mr.’s art often appears playful at first—even cheerful—its veneer of bright imagery expresses darker themes and addresses anxiety. The works seen here offer his personal and artistic responses to trauma—whether natural disaster, war, psychological angst, or social anxiety—and demonstrate defiance against such adversity.


I had a last minute urge to trek up to the Asian Art Museum on one of my last days in Seattle.  I am so glad I did.  Even though I missed the above ‘Live On: Mr.’s Japanese Neo-Pop’, from what I viewed as part of a press preview looked like a stunning exhibit.  It’s always nice to see a fun exhibit in the midst of floors filled with classical work and dollops of modern art.

Upon my visit to the Asian Art Museum, I fell in love with the ‘Mughal Painting: Power and Piety’ in the Foster Galleries.  The ‘Hamza outside the Fortress of Armanus, 1567-82, Mir Sayyid ‘ali, Persian, active 16th c., opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper, 34 15/16 x 28 3/4in. (88.8 x 73cm), Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Richard E. Fuller’.  It ached of layers of imagery, ornate handiwork, Mughal rulers and notables.  The other portraits depicted a ruler’s supremacy with his personal accouterments—daggers, rings, necklaces—crafted from luxurious materials and inlaid with jewels.  Bling and more bling!

At the end of your museum visit, make sure you find time to walk around Volunteer Park.  It’s a gorgeous property and I found myself swooning in the autumn sun at trees galore.

Asian Art Museum

Volunteer Park

1400 East Prospect Street Seattle, WA 98112

206.654.3100 & TTY 206.344.5267


Seattle Art Museum: ‘ City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India’ and ‘Pop Departures’

The Seattle Art Museum is immense.  I decided to narrow my visit down by focusing on exhibits of interest as oppose to overwhelming myself.  It was a good plan.  I settled on the ‘City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India’ and ‘Pop Departures’.

City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India

Aug 30 2014 – Feb 16 2015

Seattle Art Museum

Third Floor Galleries

Bollywood movie culture, venerated politicians, religious traditions, and art historical icons all contribute to the myriad of influences in contemporary urban Indian culture. The artists in this exhibition pay tribute to this multitude even as they introduce elements of irony, introspection, and critique.

Through their photography and sculpture, the artists negotiate diverse ideas and influences on contemporary Indian society—Hindu mythology, Bollywood movies, Indian and western art, and icons of everyday life in a global market economy. Many of the works are influenced as much by popular movie culture and the use of digital technology as by the conventions of religious ritual and street processions, traditional theater, and dance.

Come see the colorful, contradictory, and complex India of today through the works of some of the country’s leading artists.


When I was walking through the space to take in the ‘City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India’ exhibit there was a school class on a learning break.  I was so impressed of  their  interpretation of “India Shining V: Gandhi with iPod”.  Their comments on India as a tech-savvy consumer society was a great assessment.  I saw a bright-red Gandhi, gaudy and grotesque, grinning at his iPod menu. No telling what he’s listening to, but it’s not a tune from the India he led to independence in 1947.

Being of South Asian origin, I felt exuberant to see such beautiful images of India’s people, places and artistry in play.  Cheeky but thoughtful.  “The Reassurance”, from the series Definitive Reincarnate, 2003/2006, Nandini Valli Muthiah, Indian, b. 1976, color photograph, 40 1/4 x 40 x 1 in., Collection of Sanjay Parthasarathy and Malini Balakrishnan was a favourite.  The bombastic colours, cultural and religious nods were respectful and the dance of bridging old world thought into modern Western re-thinking was an important conversation to have within the context of beautiful photographs and statues.

Pop Departures

Oct 9 2014 – Jan 11 2015

Seattle Art Museum

Simonyi Special Exhibition Galleries

In the 1960s, art for the first time embraced the brash world of commercial culture, advertising, and mass media—images of shiny newness, youth, and seduction. Pop art electrified artists, audiences, and critics alike. It changed our understanding of art, and the ripple effects of its seismic shift are still felt today. Pop Departures presents the bold visions of American Pop artists, including the works of icons such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, and Claes Oldenburg.

The exhibition takes us beyond the pioneers of Pop and to the work of subsequent generations of artists for whom Pop art has been an inspiration or a vehicle for critique. See works from the 1980s and ’90s by artists such as Lynn Hershman Leeson, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, and Richard Prince. Continue with work made in the era of digital markets and social media by Margarita Cabrera, Josephine Meckseper, and Ryan Trecartin—contemporary artists who use Pop as a point of departure.

Pop art changed the way we consume media and redefined art as part of our market economy. Pop Departures will blow open your notions of Pop and take you on a journey through the last 50 years of American popular culture.


If you are a fan of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein ‘Pop Departures’ is for you.   I had many rendezvous’ with Warhol’s ‘Mick Jagger’ on the day I visited.  It is very rare to see these works on view and it was a true explosion of colour, pop art and humour.  There was no stiff upper lip apparent in this exhibit that kept giving and giving.

“The Kiss V”, 1964, Roy Lichtenstein, American, 1923-1997, magna on canvas, 36 × 36 in., Collection Simonyi, © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein was important to pay homage to.  One of the more popular Lichtenstein portraits – checking out the dots up close was fun especially if you are a pop art fan.  I was more interested in the traditional pop art on display and for me proved to be a joyful time.

You need a good two to three hours to walk the length of the Seattle Art Museum and make sure to double back for the works of Chihuly (a small space but well worth the one on one time with) and the decadent Porcelain Room which will have you craving a cup of tea and biscuits.

Keep in mind; in 2015 the Seattle Art Museum is bringing an exhibit on the works and clothing of Yves Saint Lauren to their shores.  It maybe worth a flight out to catch up close.  😉

Seattle Art Museum

1300 First Avenue Seattle, WA 98101

206.654.3100 & TTY 206.654.3137