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    Sale 2631

    Asian Contemporary Sale (Day Sale)

    1 December 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 896


    Price Realised  


    (Born in 1969)
    signed and dated 'MR.; 2005; Tomoko Sugimoro; Kaori Kamachi; Chika Ogura' in English (on reverse)
    acrylic on canvas
    61 x 50 cm. (24 x 19 1/2 in.)
    Painted in 2005

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    Taking his name from a national baseball star (Shigeo Nagashima alias "Mister"), Mr. is known as a Japanese manga artist, as well as a performance and video artist. He first made his impression in the contemporary art scene with a collection of drawings of anime-style girl characters using the backs of shopping receipts he had gathered from his day-to-day purchases. His works display a cartoon world of irresistibly cute characters in their tiny world, on the one hand, while referencing the blending of a Lolita complex and Otaku Culture on the other hand. Portraying these large-eyed, innocent cartoon characters in a sexual context, Mr. not only explores the fascination of Japan's comic industry with this phenomenon, but also expresses his personal cultural commentary.
    Manga as a genre suggests pure fantasy where the artist and the reader themselves escape to however the creations of Mr. in the context of contemporary Japan points to the integration and symbiotic relationship between fantastical manga and reality. Mr.'s works are particularly striking as his two dimensional works hold compositional qualities of an animated movie. As seen in the two featured works of this sale (Shall We Dong Salmon? and Untitled), the figures are positioned in ways different from traditional drawings and paintings. The left figure in Untitled (Lot 896) has a foot cut off in the frame, the blue haired girl in Shall We Dong Salmon? (Lot 897) is hidden behind the man's arm. Moreover, these paintings are painted with tireless detail and care that the viewer is given the impression that the paintings are actually movie clips. Shall We Dong Salmon? does not simply show one scene as previous generations of comics may have had but has the ability to depict an entire storyline.
    Shall We Dong Salmon? is such example of fantasy storytelling, the figures stand defiantly looking out onto the sea as if ready to embark on an adventure. Like other comics the figures are prepubescent children, smiling innocently and multicoloured in hair. With their undergarments exposed and innocently white this painting is not overtly sexual but more successfully demonstrates Mr.'s otaku background. While sexually overt comics used to be embarrassing and often remained hidden the otaku culture has brought forth sexual images as the norm and is even popular amongst both men and women today.
    Perhaps Untitled more strongly demonstrates Mr.'s lolita complex where two school girls equally young and naive are dressed in otaku fashion. Half dressed in a school uniform, they are young and provocative in their pose, smiling at the audience, Mr. involves the viewer in this scene as the third figure in this room. This is convincingly done so through the viewer's ability to decipher every detail of the room, from the patterns of the wallpaper, the scene outside the window to the tiny self portrait like doll of Mr. himself found behind the girl's knee high socks.
    By taking a traditionally flat comic style, Mr. transforms manga into an almost three-dimensional artform, subliminally reinforcing how the fantastical world of manga is more recently found in the reality of contemporary Japanese life.