Monday, June 9, 2008

Leilani: Takashi Kono

In an era when the Japanese world of graphic design was shaken by the arrival of the uninhibited creative power of the US and Europe, Takashi Kono, an artist with the spirit of his Edo forebears, believed that what was of foreign origin was indeed "foreign," and he hoped for a rebirth of Japanese forms and colors in commercial art.

What he depicts are concisely abbreviated forms of nature: mountains, fields, flowers, animals, fish. But, with startling wit and forms and colors that stem from his left brainwaves removing the rusty shackles of "Fujiyama" and "geisha" stereotypes.

One example of his work of this time is
"Sheltered Weaklings-Japan”. The black background signifies the international politics surrounding Japan in the early 1950s and Japan is represented by a school of fish docilely trailing an enormous shark (USA). The tiny fish have diminutive white bodies and red circles for eyes. In the top right corner, two red sharks (U.S.S.R and P.R.C.) are swim in the opposite direction. It appears that Kono, as a Japanese, had especially acute feelings towards the Cold War. He seems to have felt a certain self-hatred and boiling rage; the red eyes of the tiny fish fittingly hold its designer's emotions. Furthermore, by making the number of the fish thirteen, Kono seems to code even the death of Japan with the numerological meaning of that particular number. That he intended to signify death by using the number 13 (according to the Western superstition) is clandestinely corroborated by the title written in English, not Japanese, "Sheltered Weaklings-Japan."

1 comment:

nutmeg said...

Love this post! I'm doing a research paper of Takashi Kono for a college course and was very excited to come across your blog.