Mr. (b. 1969)
signed and dated 'Mr. 2011' (on the overlap)
acrylic on canvas
57¼ x 44 1/8 in. (145.4 x 112 cm.)
Painted in 2011.
Courtesy of the artist

Lot Essay

Three months after the disasters, I decided to visit the areas affected so that I could fully imprint on myself the reality of the situation there.

What thoughts do the people who died in these terrible events have to offer? We will receive from them no words.
I find the state of such despair to be absurd. And what of their families, their friends and lovers, all the people they knew?
What are they supposed to do? Must they resign themselves? Most valuable among their possessions, the tsunami robbed people of their homes;
their memories and mementos too were lost to tragedy. As someone who escaped the direct effects of the disasters, these thoughts weighed continually on my mind.

A half year has now passed since the events of 3.11. At first, I would watch and listen to the reports on television and the radio and think desperately
that I had to do something. Now, however, I realize that the only thing I can do is to keep on painting.

In selecting a theme for my work in this auction, I had a wide range of emotions to choose from: misery, hopelessness, despair, fear...
I thought long and hard, but in the end, I chose hope. The ideal over present reality. I would rather look to the future than stare at this point where we stand now.

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.

MR. 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. The present lot exemplifies the style and subject matter that has garnered MR. an international cult following-a wide-eyed adolescent girl in a panty revealing pose cavorting in an eddy of cuteness.

Here, MR. portrays an exuberant young girl skipping, her spring caught in mid-air. This school girl in her prim uniform, pleated skirt, suspenders, and bowtie, displays a near manic energy, her blue hair swirling about her, her right mary jane flying in the air, and her bright red backpack flapping in her wake. She is surrounded by myriad symbols of sweetness-strawberries, pastries and wrapped candies-and cuteness-the bunny charms in her ponytail, the plush teddy bear hanging from her bag, the floating kitties and flowers. MR. has annotated the composition with scrawls of text; the large letters across the foreground read "Okay!!" like a cheerleading rally, blasting before the gossip-filled schoolyards.

More from Post-War and Contemporary Art Session I including Works from the Peter Norton Collection

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