“I’m trying to make people happy and enliven the world with Harajuku Kawaii culture and fashion” – Sebastian Masuda
Having escalated the pop culture phenomenon known as “Harajuku Kawaii Culture” to a level that now represents Japanese contemporary art to a global audience, artist/art director & filmmaker Sebastian Masuda has brought his “Point-Rhythm World 2018 – Monet’s Microcosm” to the Pola Museum of Art in Hakone, Japan.
Inspired by the French Impressionist artist Claude Monet’s Water Lilly Pond (1899) during a 2017 trip to the Pola Museum Annex in Ginza, Masuda has created an interactive exhibition that is infused with the support of digital technology video, audio and other artists that allows one to be “immersed” in Monet’s painting.
The homage paid to Monet is fitting as he was an early western proponent of the Ukiyo-e (浮世絵) style of Japanese woodblock prints and paintings. As Don Morrison wrote in Time Magazine in 2007 (Monet’s Love Affair with Japanese Art), “One day in 1871, legend has it, a French artist named Claude Monet walked into a food shop in Amsterdam, where he had gone to escape the Prussian siege of Paris. There he spotted some Japanese prints being used as wrapping paper. He was so taken by the engravings that he bought one on the spot. The purchase changed his life — and the history of Western art.” Morrison continues, “Monet went on to collect 231 Japanese prints, which greatly influenced his work and that of other practitioners of Impressionism, the movement he helped create. Under the new Meiji Emperor, Japan in the 1870s was just opening to the outside world after centuries of isolation. Japanese handicrafts were flooding into European department stores and art galleries. Japonisme, a fascination with all things Japanese, was soon the rage among French intellectuals and artists, among them Vincent van Gogh, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro and the young Monet. Perhaps for that reason Impressionism caught on early in Japan and remains ferociously popular there.”
Per Masuda, “Kawaii represents one’s one’s own heartfelt personal universe of cherished things that no one else can disturb. Be it fashion, music, or art, the visions of a million people are revealed in a million different ways. Kawaii is supported by each and every point of view.”
The term “Point-Rhythm” combines the art technique of Pointillism, or the use of many small colored dots to form an image, with Masuda’s seemingly preferred technique of rhythmically arranging a variety of existing items and materials (plastic toys, food packaging, etc) into a pattern resembling a colorful explosion (in fact, explosive-using artist Cai Guo-Qiang is thought of as a mentor by Masuda).
Located at the foot of Mt. Fuji in Hakone, the Pola Museum of Art appears set to break with past orthodoxy as this is the first time they have made gallery space available to a contemporary artist. This exhibition, bridging the past and future, caps a whirlwind run for Masuda of the past several years of both solo and group exhibitions spanning several continents.
Along with his retail boutique 6%DokiDoki, Kawaii Monster Cafe (both located in Harajuku, Tokyo), as well as his Time After Time Capsule project which is likely to conclude its multi-city/country run at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Sebastian Masuda appears set to extend his prior eight-month run as Japan’s Cultural Envoy to the world into a permanent position!
Sebastian Masuda’s “Point-Rhythm World 2018 – Monet’s Microcosm” runs until December 2nd, 2018 at The Pola Museum Of Art In Hakone, Japan (website)
Point Rhythm World 2018 -Monet’s Microcosm-, 2018
Photo Courtesy @dailyflickny
Claude Monet Water Lily Pond, 1899
Oil on canvas, 88.6 X 91.9cm
Collection of POLA Museum of Art