The iconic Japanese artist’s sci-fi fantasy art works are juxtaposed with ancient Chinese Buddhist stone sculptures.
Yoshitaka Amano is best known for his illustrations and character designs, including his work for the Final Fantasy video game series, as well as his animation works.
Art Statements in Hong Kong is holding an exhibition of Yoshitaka Amano’s work until 30 May 2017, entitled “Deva Loka Genesis”. Ancient Chinese Buddhist stone sculptures are placed within the art space in dialogue with the Japanese artist’s ultra-modern tableaux of fantastic and sci-fi characters and creatures. Contemporary and traditional elements are thus juxtaposed, creating an anachronistic atmosphere and revealing some of the artist’s own inspiration and influences.
Amano was born in 1952 in Shizuoka City, Japan and is one of the fathers of the anime aesthetic. As he stated in an interview The Japan Times,
I’m not inspired by anime: I created it. Using my own characters in my paintings is natural because they are my own characters, my own creations. It’s as if Warhol cooked the Campbell Soup, designed its packaging, named it and then painted it. That’s me.
Some of Amano’s animation masterpieces have become key to popular culture, such as Gatchaman (The Battle of the Planets), Honeybee Hutch and The Time Boken. His work for series such as the video game Final Fantasy and Vampire Hunter D has also gained him much popularity within the contemporary anime and gaming culture.
Since 1989, Amano has exhibited his paintings on aluminium in prestigious museums and galleries worldwide, including the Orlean Museum of Art in France, Tokyo’s Uenonomori Museum, The Angel Orensanz Foundation in New York, MOCA Shanghai, Germany’s Kunstverein Heilbronn, MOCA Taipei, the Barbican Centre in London, and Mountain Art Museum in Beijing.
Yoshitaka Amano became passionate in drawing at an early age, and through comic books he undertook an interest in graphic work and illustration. He has cited American Neil Adams as his favourite comic book artist, and has been inspired by psychedelic and pop art, particularly by the work of American pop artist Peter Max. Amano also draws from the tradition of printing of Art Nouveau and ukiyo-e.
In the early 1980s he started focusing on science-fiction and fantasy illustrations, while from later in the decade he also began working on conceptual designs for video games. Amano’s first exhibition, “Hiten”, was held in 1989 at Yurakucho Mullion in Tokyo. In 1990, he also began to work as an artist and set designer for stage theatre.
Amano takes inspiration from Asian and Western mythologies to create new legends taking place in futuristic and galactic realms. The current exhibition puts in perspective Amano’s works with rare and important Buddhist and mythical Chinese stone sculptures from the Northern Qi, Sui, Tang, Song and Ming Dynasties, “highlighting the timeless qualities and deep influence of ancient religious art”.
The title of the exhibition itself, “Deva Loka Genesis”, takes inspiration from the religious concept of deva loka, which in Hindu religions represents a place of blissful existence, where gods and devas dwell. In Buddhism it is the dwelling place of Buddhist devas, and it is conceived as similar to Heaven, a place of eternal light and goodness. “Devaloka” is also the name of Amano’s small exhibition tour in 2010, after which he announced the opening of his film production company Studio Devaloka.
C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia
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