Barbican Brutalism triumphs over Olympics disappointment for artist MAMIMU

There's a saying in Japanese that goes "Fall down seven times, stand up eight". Sticking true to this adage is London-based Japanese artist/graphic designer MAMIMU (aka June Mineyama-Smithson).

Her collaboration with CULT VISION, an eyewear boutique in London's Barbican, was planned to mark the Tokyo Olympics 2020 in their shop window. But whilst Covid-19 led to both the delay of the Olympics and CULT VISION temporarily closing doors, MAMIMU continued the conversation with the brand to work on giving a little ray of hope despite the circumstances.

And so was born Barbican Geometrics. A study of shapes and forms inspired by the Brutalist aesthetics of the Barbican, the series of colourful prints extract a sense of order and progress from the regularity of the London landmark's windows, tiles, and steps.

“In uncertain times like this, ‘optimism’ can be more than a lofty, happy idea,” says MAMIMU. “I believe optimism is a choice: you can either dwell on your loss or find the inner strength to move on."

"The Brutalist aesthetic is often seen as cold and sterile, but I have discovered the joy and optimistic side of this iconic piece of London urban architecture. With bold solid colours and shapes, I hope to show the world optimism and resilience."

MAMIMU's work often shines with hope. Inspired by the philosophy of Japanese Kimono artisans, she creates bold joyful patterns from the seemingly mundane, and June's work has been featured internationally on YCN, Cow Parade Niseko and SCMP.

Her latest works swap out the famous greys of the Barbican for bubble gum pinks, Gen-Z yellows and aqua blue. These colours aren't random choices, though, as the below references show MAMIMU drawing from shop front signs and wall markings of the area as inspiration.

Barbican Geometrics can be seen in CULT VISION until 31 December 2020. They are also available to buy now on on the MAMIMU shop.


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