Uh oh, are we lost again? I knew I should have hired a different guide at the ICA. This one kept on jumping on the benches, singing and trying to steal stuff from the gift shop. Was that supposed to be part of the tour? We're going on a pretend museum visit and studio tour today at Blicky Kitty, because we saw a show of Misaki Kawai's last year at the ICA in Boston and I just keep thinking about her art. OK, let's get in the time machine...where should we go? Weimar Germany to try and kill Hitler? 10 BC so we can find out what Mary Magdalene thinks about Dan Brown? 1986 and warn Geraldo Rivera not to open Al Capone's vault on live tv? Naaaah, lets go back to 2007 and see some cool art. OK, the driver seems distracted by that furry gentleman in orange -- "Sir, could you please have a seat?" OK, everyone make play car sounds, "brrroooooommm, broooooommm..." Oh that was so fast! Here we are!
Wow this is so cool! She's created a whole installation using papier-mâché, wood, fabric, and other materials like felt, stickers, and yarn. The painting on the walls of the gallery really helps suggest the playful movement of the little space cars buzzing around the station. There are so many details to explore when you peek in the little rooms. The station is inhabited by figures of the artist, her friends as well as her favorite cultural figures, like John Lennon or Casper the Friendly Ghost. Her style is so winning and joyous it made me wonder what her paintings might look like. *Rriiing rrrring.* Oh sorry, that's my cell. "Hello? Misaki Kawai? This is such a coincidence! I was just blogging about you. You what? You're a big fan of Blicky Kitty and you want us to come visit your studio in Brooklyn? Thanks! That would be so great, but how would we... Just tell the time machine driver? OK, thanks! See you soon!
OK, here we are. Oh, there's a guy from VBStv there too so we'll just go in with him (click here for video, part one). Emily Brouillet, Assistant Curator at the ICA writes that her work is part of a Japanese style coined by graphic artist Terry Johnson (King Terry) called Hetauma. The term that combines the words for good and bad. Kawai herself explains that "Everything has a balance of good and bad to it: for example, Hetauma for me is 'bad, but good'...when something looks cute but has a funny or weird aspect to it, I think it's really special." Part of what I find compelling about her paintings is that when all pretense and traditional measures of technical skill are stripped away this enables the artist to really explore compositions of forms and color in a basic and honest way. There is a fun tension that runs through her work between a serious respect for her own aesthetic vision and her disarming playfulness and irreverence.
Oh no what's going on down here? The Manhattan Project? * Note to self: maybe we'll pop in for a little talkie-talk with Oppenheimer, circa 1939 on the way back home to 2008. Let's listen in. "What don't you like about yourself Mr. Furface?"
"Meep, meep, ma-ma meep, meep, meep!"
"Your nasal-labial folds? Oh we can take care of that with a little Restylane. Oh what's that? Not happy with your inner thighs and the pilates isn't doing it? OK just breathe in deeply and count backwards from 10."
Want in on the fun? I think her work is still up in San Francisco, and Toronto, and she will have a solo show at the LaMontagne Gallery in Boston in February. You can also check here for more upcoming shows.