Yoshitaka Amano: M
Text (German/English) by Ralf Christofori
84 p with 95 coloured illustrations
310 x 240 mm, softcover with flaps
M in Yoshitaka Amanos World
Yoshitaka Amano was born in Shizuoka in 1952 and, on leaving the production company Tatsunoko at the tender age of 30, had already become a star in the firmament of Japan’s Manga-scene. His early animation series »Speed-Racer« and »G-Force«, as well as the later »Final Fantasy« proved to be immensely popular, becoming permanent fixtures in 70s TV entertainment schedules, particularly in the USA. The mass Japanese animation and comics market’s insatiable appetite has subsequently turned Amano into a fully-fledged superstar.
With a few notable exceptions, contemporary art in Japan has continually been reproached for its style of imitative appropriation, until that is a new batch of artists burst onto the scene at the end of the 90s. On their own admission they owe a lot to Amano, be it Mariko Mori’s futuristic barbie-esque dreamscapes and performances or Takasha Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara for instance, in whose paintings the graphic borrowings from Manga proliferate in the funny faces or as unformed babies and little bears. Next to his work on further Mangas for a variety of new applications, be they films, as book illustrations, ceramic designs or as video games, Amano has recently revisited the 700 year old painting tradition of sumi-e. This technique using ink on fine rice paper is based upon expression, brush stroke and absolute precision, leaving no room for error. The Zen idea of penetrating to the essence of the matter is coupled here with an automatism, which construes the thing being painted as a kind of second nature, or as (American) critical opinion has described it: »the introverting of something extrovert in the form of an applied mutation … and, as a merging of different ideas of time, allowing past and future to coalesce.«
Amano has Mangas coming out of his ears, Mangas he can use and fashion everywhichway in a variety of guises, situations and modes of expression. In between however, he has been fascinated by the challenge of transferring pictorial elements derived from the ancient sumi-e painting tradition onto highly polished placards. And here, aside from of any skill involved, his supra-dimensional eyes and chins, furrowed brows, silhouettes and details appear to be drawn from the same inexhaustible but anonymous reservoir, from which modern pictorial language also feeds; they have quite literally lost their Japanese innocence and have become universal ciphers in a universalistic culture. Were one to ask Amano where he is currently living, it is indeed fitting that he should reply: mostly Tokyo, New York and Paris.