From ancient times to the 21st century, Japan has been a land of colourful, diverse and endlessly fascinating visual cultures. Now artist Hiro Ando, who lives and works between Tokyo and Shanghai, has found a new way to fuse past and present in his captivatingly original paintings, drawings and sculptures.
As one of the founding members of the CrazyNoodles collective, a studio of artists spread between Tokyo, Paris and Beijing who share a youthful neo-pop aesthetic, Ando's work is primarily light-hearted and fun. But that doesn't mean it's flimsy; look deeper and there are nuanced layers that are strongly rooted in the complexities of Japanese history and society.
Drawing his inspiration and energy from the Tokyo streets, his work takes traditional cultural icons such as the Maneki-Neko (“lucky cat”), samurai warriors, sumo wrestlers, and koi fish and reconceptualises them within the hyperreal mass culture of the modern day. He may be taking well-worn subjects, but through some kind of magical alchemy, he's creating something fresh and new in the process.
With manga now mainstream across the world, there's a lot of duplication and me-too-ism within the Japanese art world, so it's to Ando's credit that he's struck out an original path for himself, while still creating work that's so fun, thrilling and full of life.
Hiro Ando is represented by Galerie Jacob Paulett.