A Shopping Street
Mount Fuji and I
2010 by Jiro Osuga
Tokyo, Flowers East until 26 March 2011
Osuga’s Tokyo exhibition is like stepping into Asia. Flung into a world of occupied and bustling colour, Osuga’s canvases, floor pieces and sculpture transport the viewer out of London to Tokyo city. Stepping into the gallery, one is immediately confronted by a wall of faces on the left – an array of characters from Japanese city dwellers to dynasty Gods, Manga cartoons or the face of the red angry man. These are in fact masks, that viewers are invited to try on and pose in, and they highlight the very crux of this exhibition – interaction – the fact that we are positively encouraged to get involved with Osuga’s art. The effect is a totally different experience and atmosphere to what one is usually used to; far from being precious about his art, Osuga is humorous and provoking – next to the masks is a table littered with sculptures, from mini sushi to papier-mâché fish inside fish inside fish. Further inside is the city spread out on a mat that you can walk on, providing you take off your shoes. The bright colours of these paintings, the yellows, greens and reds that appear almost back-lit, completely capture the artificial brilliance of the Tokyo streets at night, while the ‘Flowers’ vending machine (much of this work was made specifically for the gallery) displays the array of packaging and product that confronts any city dweller daily. Though as well as these ‘all singing and dancing’ compositions, upstairs Osuga gives us his quiet and more reflective canvases, where emotion is unmistakably conveyed – in the uncontrollable smile of the figure clutching a giant Mount Fuji, to the forlorn, slightly embarrassed expression of the giant that looms impossibly over the city.