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Nov. 22, 2014–April 5, 2015

Release October 16, 2014

SEATTLE, WA – The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) presents Live On: Mr.’s Japanese Neo-Pop, the first solo museum exhibition in the U.S. for Mr. Opening on November 22 at SAM’s Asian Art Museum, the exhibition features Mr.’s art of the past 15 years. Born in 1969, Mr. is a protégé of Takashi Murakami, internationally acclaimed icon of Japanese Pop art. He borrowed the nam​e “Mr.” from “Mister Giants” (Shigeo Nagashima), the superstar cleanup hitter of the postwar Yomiuri Giants baseball team. While Mr.’s art often appears playful at first—even cheerful—its veneer of bright imagery expresses darker themes and addresses anxiety.

Having grown up during Japan’s postwar “economic miracle” period, Mr. often exercises his art as a weapon against social expectations, according to Xiaojin Wu, Seattle Art Museum’s Curator of Japanese and Korean Art. At the beginning of Mr.’s career, he collected trash to create his work, following examples set by artists such as Robert Rauschenberg in his assemblage works, or Pop Art or the Italian Arte Povera avant-garde movement. As his art developed, Mr. began to focus on Japan's otaku (geek) subculture of manga and anime.

As a member of the otaku subculture, his work speaks to its lifestyle w​hich is marked by obsessive interests in anime and manga that can lead to social isolation. He says, “I’ve had one eye on anime since the day I was born.”

The devastating disaster of the March 11, 2011 tsunami in Japan and the nuclear accident afterwards were both a shock and inspiration for Mr. In response, he composed a massive installation made of hundreds of everyday objects. Give me Your Wings – Think Different – is the central work in this exhibition. A reminder of the debris that blanketed the Tohoku area in the aftermath of the tsunami and earthquake, the installation embodies the post-disaster fear and frustration of the Japanese people in the aftermath of the catastrophic events.

Live On also includes a group of Mr.’s new works that take “kawaii” (cute) Japanese pop art to a new dimension known as moe (which literally means budding). Through fictional, adorable characters, moe speaks to a longing for youth, or youthful energy. It grew out of Japanese youth subculture, and its rebellion against authority and political engagement in favor of fantasy and virtual experience. In addition, Mr. recently teamed up with singer Pharrell Williams for his newly released video “It Girl”. Produced by Takashi Murakami, directed Mr. and Fantasista Utamaro and with animation production provided by NAZ, the clip turns Pharrell 2D — as he becomes a cartoon, finds himself inside a video game, and woos his anime-created “It Girl.”

The exhibition is organized by the Seattle Art Museum in collaboration with Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., Galerie Perrotin, and Lehmann Maupin Gallery. Additional support is provided by contributors to the SAM Fund.

​C​ontact US

Wendy Malloy​​
SAM Public Relations

Cara Egan
SAM Public Relations

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