One of the most interesting aspects of the biggest twice-annual art and design events here in Tokyo – the Design Festa – is the wall sized paintings. Every event dozens of young and old artists rent a booth, or several, to live paint a huge painting during the two day event. Even the smallest booths costs a couple of hundred dollars to rent so you can imagine the out of pocket expense for the bigger booths! Most of the live painters don’t bother selling any art but some people have a little side business selling postcards or books but the vast majority of them don’t even get to take the painting home at the end of the festival. Neither are they in it to make contacts, in fact most artists are so dedicated to finishing their project in the two days they have that they have no time to chat to visitors. Some even wear headphones while paintings to really enable them to concentrate on their work. I’d really like to get to know them though, I want to know what drives them to spend so much time and so much money on something like this! Here’s a small selection of some of the live paintings that caught my eye at the latest Design Festa, earlier this month. Enjoy!
One of my favorites from this year’s Design Festa was Mr Masato Homma and his very low-key no thrills exhibition of customized tin dolls, known as Buriki-ningyo here in Japan. Even as a kid I remember sometimes seeing photos of old tin toys that would move around if a spring in the back was wound up and came in all sizes and shapes. Cuesukeya, as he calls himself in the world of toy making, takes standard sized tin doll and customize them, for collectors and fans of old-style toys all over the world. Here’s four of his dolls in Japanese style but he’s got many others on his Flickr page, including Hulk Hogan! I love the details and the clean simplicity of these toys, they are almost works of art and would fit in well in any modern art gallery around the world I think. He’s got a Facebook page as well. If you ever visit Kyoto I also recommend the tin doll museum.
At Design Festa 2011 I stumbled upon this macabre but fascinating piece of art. A calf in shiny plastic, with an inverted luxury hand bag inserted into it’s body. But there was more than meets the eye in this mysterious creation. Upon the request of the three girls whose work this was I put my hand into the bag and felt the rumblings of machinery through the leather siding. It was like a living thing in there. Normally I am not for art with chock value, but this thing was pretty neat. The three creators, all exceptionally normal young Japanese girls talked to me a little about the piece, but all I could think of was the combination of young women, the skilled craftmanship and the the bizarre idea. I loved it. They call themselves collectively 4BT310 and do all their work together, unplanned but certainly not without skill. They also had stuffed animals, drawings and plenty of other fantastic ideas on display but I was hypnotized by the plastic calf. Their real names are given only as Shibata + Sato X 2 (Sato is a very common name in Japan). I think these three young designers have a bright future ahead of them!
Just a few photos from last Sundays Design Festa, a wonderful event for makers, artists, designers and craftsmen from all over Japan (and quite a few from abroad) held twice yearly in Tokyo’s Odaiba district. There’s hundred if not thousands of exhibitors, some great, some very enthusiastic.
I got there early since I didn’t have much time to spend but even being 30 minutes early I met with this massive line of people, literally thousands of people lining up to get it. And I didn’t even have a prepaid ticket to get it! Luckily, for once in my life, being unprepared turned out to be the best thing since all these people lined up all had prepaid tickets! The line at the ticket booth was about 25 people and moved very quickly. I was in in no-time! I have already posted one paper crafter, and here’s one photo of a young lady designer and illustrator. I couldn’t look closer at her work since she was… not very talkative. For as long as I watched she stood immobile with what I thought was a bag but later I noticed her walking around with it, some sort of mask. Quite a few people watched me take her photo. From the look of it, it seems she had some really nice illustrations in her booth! Maybe next time I’ll catch her without the mask. If anyone talked to her, please let me know!