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    Sale 2602

    Asian Contemporary Art (Evening Sale)

    24 May 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 171


    Price Realised  


    (Born in 1965)
    Monument for Nothing
    acrylic, wood bolt and hologram on plywood
    600 x 500 cm. (236 1/4 x 196 3/4 in.)
    Executed in 2002- 2004

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    Aida Makoto presents an eager self-exploitation by excavating his deepest and utmost honest inner desires and thoughts and concurrently tames it in erudition to provide social critiques of the present and confrontation of the realities of Japan's national history. In such sense, his boldness and audacity ironically facilitate simplicity in execution of transferring his much complex character, generating an outcome that is most definitely charged with politically sarcastic wit. Depicting his personal fantasies, Makoto reveals his psychological state that may appear vulgar with sexual sadism and savagery of the subject but conversely, this is precisely what makes him unique and absurdly naive.

    Mergence of innocence and explicit contents are often illustrated in manga and anime, in which is also a favored canvas of unlimited space and fantasy for many contemporary Japanese artist. Makoto, in resistance to the misuse of Japanese pop culture by the former artistic movement of New pop, was a part of Group 1965; formed in 1995, whom deliberately contemplated on the banal and transient nature of Japanese domestic life. His decision in conveying such scrutiny only seemed plausible in the sequential, collective and liberating elements of manga. Manga's peculiarity in presenting a less perverse content in comparison to the raw actuality of the subject itself; it sensitively makes these crudities seem quite excusable, hence marking it's infinite sphere as the ideal place for expression. Makoto, inevitably nurtured by manga, aspired to become a manga artist. The winsome technicality of simplicity in form and contour of manga operate efficiently in immediately transmitting his impulsive ideas.

    The eclectic use of irony is not merely embedded in his oeuvres but also triggered in the responses of the spectators. He stirs up a passive aggressive reflex by drawing yet repelling the spectators in tandem with his sexual iconoclasm. In 'Girls don't cry', Makoto figuratively uses the body of a female to paint a three dimensional portrait of a manga girl. He explored the body's perceptual competence to art's eccentric impact on them by resourcefully manipulating the natural curves and assets of the female body, clothing color configuration of a manga character's head; breasts as the protruding eyes, nipples as the pupils, navel as the nostrils and genitals as the chin dimple. The viewer finds them selves taking terse embarrassing glances but with extreme scrutiny at every glance. This juxtaposed interplay is a repetitive factor that Makoto consciously installs, revealing again his capricious behavior but retaining the core nihilism in criticizing the hedonic, materialistic culture of modern Japanese society. The vanity in excessive consumerism in contemporary society has proliferated aimless individuals; this emptiness contaminating everything into worthless products, discarding and ignoring any ethical, moral or humane essence of its initial existence. Like so, even human, furthermore, women has also become objectified into infinite space of distortion. The constant portrayal of women in consumable situations such as commercial media, animation, manga and sexual industry alters them into complex commodity. Makoto's attentiveness towards this reality is portrayed in his modification of the body as the canvas to his paint, twisting the preadolescent girl into a subject of voyeurism.

    Makoto stated, 'I want to paint... the biggest cause of the cultural degeneration today. That cause was the Pacific War. The true theme of this series, therefore, is not the past that was the war, but the present age in which I live.' He interweaves diverse strands of cultural and historical references to reason his outlandishly skewed aesthetic execution. The immorality of his taboo illustrations are his deliberate attempt to challenge conservative morality in describing complex violence in history and culture as he acknowledged that the rich realm of human experience was overlooked under such mannerism. The nihilistic tendency is inflated in Makoto's persistent usage of sexualized preadolescent girls, reaffirming his belief that there is no objective meaning, essential value or basis of truth. In this way, Makoto created 'Monument for Nothing' articulating a denunciation for normativity and authority.

    Constructing an edifice to honor 'nothing', Makoto once again comments on the emptiness of consumerism and nihilism. Conventionally designed to communicate and instruct an important historical or political event, monument in Makoto's vocabulary holds an absolute new definition with its transitory trait in conjunction to the typical site-specific monuments. Its ability to disassemble into section for efficient mobility, 'Monument for Nothing' criticizes the gallery and art museum's momentary tendencies. Owing to its totalitarian manifestation, this monument customarily should be heavily loaded with durable material, but instead has taken a surprising medium of inexpensive light materials. The easy compartmentalization of this oeuvre dissolves the boundary between, sculpture, painting and installation. Makoto's ongoing advocacy in iconoclasm is exhibited in his refusal to be tamed into one square structure; in which his rationale is constantly overturning traditional beliefs, customs and values.

    The structural societal and cultural overhaul that the artist aspires elevate the crucial significance of a monument; enable to simultaneously analyze the present and the past in an honest testimonial, he dismantles and renovates simple activities of everyday life. The magnificence in scale bestows ceremonial power in alluring a communal invocation. The female protagonist stands momentously in heroic bodily gesture, loading a sake barrel with ease on the shoulder. The autonomy of the monument renders a prepared confidence for the yet to come. Sake barrel holds cultural symbolism especially that of the Kagamiwari ceremony, a popular custom performed typically at the celebration of something new such as New Year, anniversary, opening of a new business or a wedding where the barrels of sake are broken open to spread the good fortune. Sake also denote a mythological status as drinks of the gods, consequently believed that it is the way for bringing gods and people together. The divinity that Makoto endeavors to grant is detectable in his meticulous application of hologram on the protagonist's eyes. The rainbow transmission, illuminating through its plastic film evokes a celestial existence of the girl. Although she appear stark naked, her muscular figure exclaim her indestructive power, denying the habitual association of skin and nudity as sexuality or vulnerability. Optically volumizing the eyes with flat graphics of multicolor that ascend an illusion of depth, Makoto inscribes the magnitude of her existence, poignantly emphasizing her as the core unbeatable force against the indefinite drilling-house mechanism.

    The notion of home is twisted into somewhat of a war commodity, evidently accentuating the implications of the political ethos in tastefully controlled violence, possibly to echo the Pacific war and the annihilation that swiped his nation's home. By integrating various wisdom, learning and insight into a synchronization of a monument, he allegorizes the protagonist as the present state of hedonism and house machinery as a confrontation of the past, in overall evoking unified declaration of a monument that is nothing worthy to be preserved, honored or to be remembered. Here, he forces the audience to comprehend their surrounding environment and reflect back to the past to question where the morality was lost. Almost alluding as an ominous statuesque, Makoto shrewdly evaluates the shaping of contemporary Japan.

    The explosive diversity of complex and conflicted frame of mind of Makoto is uttered heavily in the aesthetic language of manga and typically twisted with dark yet comedic cynicism. Volatile formation of his many ideas and theories do not cohere in absolute chronological comprehension nor idiosyncratic in style, however, this sporadic flexibility in technical prowess and open imagination is what appoints Makoto as one of the most prominent leader in Japanese contemporary art today. Perhaps his persona stands as the metaphor for the current vertigo of hybridization of present and past, east and west, where society is expected to catch up with the rapid growth of socioeconomic development, thus consequently breeding multiple transformations and ubiquitous existence on an individual.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that Lot 171 is executed in 2002-2004, not executed in 2004 as stated in the auction catalogue.
    Makoto Aida's Monument for Nothing is an ongoing project, commenced since it was first exhibited in the "7th Kitakyushu Biennale" dated 2002 and accomplished in 2004.

    Please note that Lot 171 is also exhibited in:
    Tokyo, Japan, Mori Art Museum, Roppongi Crossing: New Visions in Contemporary Japanese Art 2004, 7 February - 11 April, 2004.


    Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art, ART FOR SALE: Intimacy between Aesthetics and Economy, Kitakyushu, Japan, 2003, p. 84 (illustrated) Tetsuro Murobushi, 21st Century Prints: Makoto Aida Empty Soul, Tokyo, Japan, Autumn, 2004. (illustrated)
    Tokyo, Japan, Art It, Summer Fall, 2004, Vol. 2, No.3, p. 42. (illustrated)
    Aida Makoto, Monument for Nothing: Graphic-sha Publishing Co. Ltd., Tokyo, Japan, 2007, pp. 14-15. (illustrated)
    Karlsruhe Center for Art and Media, Thermocline of Art New Asian Waves, Germany, 2007, pp. 208-209. (illustrated)


    Kitakyushu, Japan, Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art, The7th Kitakyushu Biennale, 22 December, 2002 - 2 Feburary, 2003.
    Germany, Museum of Conemporary Art, Thermocline of Art, New Asian Waves, 15 June - 21 October, 2007.