Shohei Otomo braucht nicht mehr als einen Kugelschreiber um Weed-Rauchende Cops, wilde Techno Geishas und Anarcho-Kids zu zeichnen, wie ihr sie noch nie gesehen habt.
Shohei Otomo is one of the most high-profile names of Tokyo’s independent illustration scene. His hyper-realist ball-point pen illustrations combine traditional Japanese and pop-culture imagery to present a biting commentary on contemporary Japanese culture.
Japanese culture is engaged in an ongoing battle against two opponents; it’s youth and the West. Like a colossal Sumo wrestler with expert cultural judo, by using its opponents own weight as a weapon, Japan somehow keeps the fight in equilibrium. It rolls with each blow, assimilates culture, pushes back with its own creations and always finds balance.
The Japanese phrase ‘ORA ORA’ has no direct English translation. It’s a threat or battle-cry, commonly used by Japanese low-lives and thugs. Recently, the phrase has also found itself used in Manga as the onomatopoeia for exertion while punching or kicking someone repeatedly, with ironic undertones. ‘ORA ORA’ is a deceptively complicated phrase and a fitting title for this exhibition. Like everything that Shohei does, his choice of title has a layered meaning that elegantly ties into show’s central theme.
On the macro level, Japans cultural dynamic with the West can seem fluid. It has, after all, been going on for centuries. However, on the smaller scale, for Japanese individuals, this dynamic often results in a conflicting sense of cultural identity. Irreconcilably different aesthetics and contradictory philosophies occupy the Japanese consciousness; Tea ceremonies and vending machines, Buddhism and consumerism, Zen simplicity and a frenetic mess of logos. All vying for positions in the Japanese psyche. The resulting tension and its social implications thematically lie at the core of this exhibition.