Yoshitaka Amano at New People S.F.

The show might be not-so-current news at this point, as I just got to see it on its last day this Saturday, but the work is just too good not to be shared.  I had the pleasure of making it to the Yoshitaka Amano: FOR JAPAN exhibit and auction just in time.  I attribute part of my hesitation to the promotional materials for the show which featured his signature black and white character design but in the end it was probably just neglect on my part.  Nevertheless, while I still enjoy the black and white body of his work it's something that we've all seen time and time again from Amano.

You can imagine my surprise when I walked into New People's FROG Gallery and saw these amazing large scale color portraits.  Some of these are of Amano's characters from Gatchaman but many were something I had not seen before from him.  The exception being one piece on permanent display in the New People lobby which I realize came from a similar show in the past.

Photo courtesy of Iris Chen

The green portrait at the top of this post has grown to be my favorite of them all for some reason.  There is a definite strength in his female characters.  They are powerful, sensual, and often, as a friend of mine put it, coquettish.  Yet there is also something unsettling about them, made obvious in some pieces where the eyes were deliberately crossed or skewed, that can leave me feeling tenuous and uneasy.  It lends these girls an initial appearance of beauty but makes them somewhat grotesque on closer inspection.

The fact that these qualities are present in Amano's work is a sure sign that he has at last joined the ranks of the Superflat movement.  The two pieces above are especially reminiscient of some Murakami works, albeit executed in Amano's own style.  I never thought of Amano as a Superflat artist based on his previous concept and illustration art.  This is a welcome evolution of my perception of him to be sure.

Of particular interest to me here is how Amano executed these paintings.  While I cannot be entirely sure without further research I believe to have determined his method.  All of these pieces are around five inches in depth off the wall and have a completely smooth gloss finish.  This seemed to be curious given that the edges were a bit too perfect to be done by hand.  The painting treatment itself looked as if it were done in cell vinyl paint.

Given Amano's background in the anime industry, this would make sense.  So my theory, for what it's worth, is that these are all made in prefabricated plexiglass boxes which were painted using animation cell vinyl paint from the inside.  It's a brilliant idea and one that I have thought about myself without knowing how to execute it exactly.  I was always curious about what cell art would look like on a large scale, presented as fine art.  And here we are.  Much better than what I could have probably come up with.

If you didn't get to see Amano's work in this exhibit, there should still be that piece in New People's lobby which is definitely worth a look.  Otherwise check out a few more shots from the show after the jump.

Photo courtesy of Iris Chen

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