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    Sale 2618

    Asian Contemporary Art (Evening Sale)

    30 November 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 523


    Price Realised  


    (Born in 1965)
    Space Knife
    panel, cotton, gesso, oil
    230 x 330 cm. (90 1/2 x 130 in.)
    Executed in 1998

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    Depicting his personal fantasies, Aida Makoto reveals his psychological state that may appear alarming to viewers with the vulgarity of the subject matter, but conversely, this precise integrity is what grants him his legacy as the prime figure of Japanese Contemporary Art.

    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 excusable, hence marking its infinite sphere as the ideal place for expression. Makoto was certainly an artist nurtured by this unlimited realm of manga, exhibited through his many oeuvres that exude its illustrative roots. However, his works do not surface as a mere illustrative likeness to manga but the compatibility between the artist and manga attest otherwise as the viewer recognizes the efficiency in the simple form and contour of manga in transmitting Makoto's impulsive ideas. While Makoto oeuvres present a consistent trace of manga, he also endeavors to practice institutional art, affirming further the diversity of his artistic capacity.

    "I like to see old Western paintings, especially Baroque paintings, and sometimes feel like painting in oil myself. But at such moments I seldom feel the necessity of taking into account the orthodox history of painting that great art historians maintain. However, I didn't want to paint angels, and eventually the work turned out to be this. In my view, such painters, as for example, Velazquez and Rubens, have a closer affinity with ILM (an SFX group in Hollywood) than Picasso or Rothko do, in a sense more interesting to me. Like in the case of scrawl others, shit and knives were the principal motifs of scrawl in my childhood. I thought such "shallow and deep" motifs were suitable for the specious illusion of the tricky techniques of oil painting of its prime."

    The tinge of manga is unavoidable in Makoto's practice as the supremacy it holds in influencing his character since childhood has been implanted deep within his consciousness. Makoto's ability to supplely mature within the realm of manga is remarkably exhibited in Space Shit (Lot 522) and Space Knife (Lot 523). Transforming his oeuvres into a clip of an animation, Makoto captures these two absurd subjects in space, enlarging and glorifying them to present an extraterrestrial force to them. The magnitude of these peculiarly amusing matters exudes a similar grandiose sensation that a Baroque painting emits. With one intention of committing himself to apply a style of Baroque, Makoto allowed his inner intuition to create a form with technicality of Baroque, resulting in a creation of a bizarre environment of a flying dung and knife. This radical turn from his preliminary intention only makes this painting endearing as the artist reveal that his innate wildness is something that cannot be hidden, thus staying true to himself and his artistic drive.

    These two paintings Space Shit and Space Knife originated from his habitual rendering since his childhood. Although the obscure subjects may claim difference from Baroque paintings, Makoto certainly impresses the dramatic finery of the period with embellished detail and realistic features. The two oeuvres sum an overall similarity in aesthetics but are of bipolar personality with its consistent theme. Round constellations of stars ornament the space in complementary with the rope-like circular shape of the dung in Space Shit. Space Knife attempt the opposite take through swift linear strokes that mimic the constellations of shooting stars, accentuating the sharpness of the knife. The strong architectural lines of the knife release a spaceship construction, striking our vision with a movement of speed. These two paintings seem caught in still motion between the successions of images of an animation, insinuating an element of continuity. Perhaps, the infinite world of space announces a sense of continuity, further accentuated with the impression of a mobile spacecraft in fast action, providing an illusion of watching an animation of virtual reality, despite the two dimensionality of the painting.

    The thematic celebration of modernity, technology and the future is encompassed in Makoto's depiction of the spacecraft like forms of celestial objects, resembling the poetics of Futurism. Futurism's engagement with the repetition of lines, breaking motion into sequences, breaking forms into assorted angles within a given time frame, all aimed at conjuring an illusion of movement. Akin to the sequences of animation, Makoto knowingly invented a scenario that recalls the dynamism of this era, investigating on their detestation towards factions of the past, middle class virtues and their keenness towards violence and conflict. These attitudes are often seen throughout Makoto's oeuvres in different expression, some explicitly crude for our moral virtue, and some subtly suggestive for our inner sadism to contemplate within. Here, Makoto takes a humorous approach in creating a visual conflict between Space Shit and Space Knife. Both, highly futuristic in form and environment, are reflective of a protest against accustomed virtue of a dung and keenness towards violence of the knife. The two subjects, conflict each other in its shape and also in movement. The dung implies a drifting mobility with peaceful scatters of the colorful stars whereas the momentum of the flying knife is implied through the fast strokes of the moving stars. With its majestic size, the spectators find themselves in brilliant awe with Makoto's virtuosity in bringing the beauty of a supposedly repelling subject. The paradoxical interplay is constantly apparent throughout all his oeuvre flaunting his dark yet comedic cynicism. Volatile formation of his many ideas and theories do not cohere in absolute chronological comprehension nor idiosyncratic in style, but this sporadic flexibility in technical prowess and open imagination is what appoints Makoto's brilliance in portraying his persona as a metaphor for the current vertigo of hybridization of present and past, East and West.


    Graphic-sha Publishing Co., Monument for Nothing by Makoto Aida, Tokyo, Japan, 2007, pp. 126-127. (illustrated)