MR. (B. 1969)
MR. (B. 1969)

Exercising My Telekinetic Powers

MR. (B. 1969)
Exercising My Telekinetic Powers
signed and dated ‘Mr. 2012’ (on the lower left side)
acrylic on canvas
130.5 x 97 cm. (51 3/8 x 38 1/4 in.)
Painted in 2012
Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York, USA
Private Collection, USA
Anon. Sale, Christie’s Hong Kong, 28 May 2017, Lot 167
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner

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Shanshan Wei
Shanshan Wei

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Lot Essay

“My Superflat idea corresponds to the introduction of a multiplicity of points. […] Japanese painting plays on subjectivity, on the freedom to enter into the reality of a scene through a gaze that can come from any angle. It is, therefore, a way of painting that could be considered rather anarchic.” – Takashi Murakami

Exercising My Telekinetic Powers depicts a prepubescent girl floating on the canvas amid a hovering flow of candy, pastries, junk food, school supplies, and stars. Strands of blue-turning-to-purple hair swirl around the girl’s head, contributing to this strikingly colourful and busy composition. The typical manga female pubic student, with her confident smile, flawless blushed skin, and a pair of enormous and watery eyes, poses with a sense of control despite a lack of contextual surrounding and grounding. Everything seems stopped in time, to the viewer’s delight, and thus drawing on the glamourous fantasy of the anime-like surrealistic scene.
Mr. can be identified with a movement in Japanese art known as "Tokyo Pop" or "Superflat." The most recognized artist of this movement, Takashi Murakami, hired Mr. as his first studio assistant; Murakami further placed this Pop aesthetic at the forefront of the international avant-garde with his seminal three-part exhibition series. Superflat, Coloriage, and Little Boy toured Japan, Europe, and the United States between 2000 and 2005 (and included Mr., Yoshitomo Nara, and Aya Takano among others). Like his fellow Superflat artists, Mr. mines the Japanese subculture of otaku-a computer-geek culture characterized by an obsession with manga (comic books), anime (cartoons), and Lolicon imagery (comics featuring Lolita-like girls)-and celebrates the Japanese concept of kawaii or cuteness.
The artist adopted his name from the post-war Japanese baseball star Shigeo Nagashima, the third baseman for the Yomiuri Giants known as "Mister." This notion of fan worship carries over into his subject matter, particularly in his obsessive drawings of characters pulled from otaku culture. Exercising My Telekinetic Powers exemplifies the style and subject matter that has garnered MR. an international cult following.
Mr.’s works always carry strong inner emotion, ranging from misery, hopelessness, despair, fear, to hope, stability, satisfaction. His recent works in particular have focused on deep reflections on the state of the world and society, and the future they hold. Mr.’s work doesn’t seek to be political, but is rather a personal statement influenced by his own life. His violent domestic upbringing had a deep impact on his dark vision of the world, and it would seem only natural for him to find refuge in his art. Here, the aim is not to challenge the audience to take a stand, but to provide comfort. The girl’s facial expression is that of utter satisfaction, as she escapes into a wonderful world of floating candy and other comforting food. Light touches her world with sparkles throughout the composition, and a slight breeze, provoked by swirling deliciousness, subtly suggests eroticism, as the back of her skirt lifts up to probably reveal her underwear.
This luscious work provides a glimpse into the collective psychology of the contemporary Japanese folks, thus acting as a societal statement. Through the figure of a commonly-found and apparently optimistic teenage student, the work reflects a generation of adults who finds comfort in escaping reality and ultimate empowerment through bringing out their alter-ego. It also exemplifies how Mr. blends adolescent fancy with the innocent manga world, incarnating the intricate reflection on the private fantasy world.
Mr. has regularly appeared in a number of international shows. His collaborations with Pharrell Williams have projected him to the forefront of international pop culture, beyond Japanese boundaries, making him a major actor of the Superflat movement.

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