Chiho Aoshima: Little Boy - City Glow and Paradise

About the Exhibition

Public Art Fund presents a series of four public art projects as part of Little Boy, a major exhibition hosted by Japan Society Gallery. The exhibition and public installations, all curated by Takashi Murakami (b.1963, Tokyo, Japan) explore the astoundingly popular phenomenon called otaku, a Japanese youth subculture obsessed with fantastic and apocalyptic science fiction, fantasy, video games, comic books (manga) and film animation (anime), whose visual and musical forms are rapidly becoming globalized.

Artist Chiho Aoshima’s large-scale digital murals portray otherworldly landscapes richly detailed with candy-colored flora and fauna. Aoshima (b.1974, Tokyo, Japan) created two separate series for Little Boy, both of which are on view in the Union Square subway station throughout May 2005. City Glow, installed near the N-R subway lines, is a multi-panel graphic work in which futuristic skyscrapers—transformed into demure, humanlike creatures—stand amidst lush tropical vegetation. A second series by Aoshima, Paradise, appears near the 4, 5 and 6 subway lines in the station. Like many of Aoshima’s works, Paradise depicts a seemingly idyllic universe where lithe fairies dwell with colorful insects, cute animals, and swirling plant life.

Aoshima renders her fantastical imagery in a singular style that seamlessly integrates the age-old tradition of Japanese scroll painting with the contemporary aesthetics of manga, the pop phenomena of Japanese comic books and graphics. Like manga, whose subject matter is characteristically darker than its American cartoon counterparts, Aoshima’s works are frequently full of apocalyptic or grotesque imagery. Her characters routinely find themselves in dire and surreal circumstances, which they endure gracefully.

Four artists whose artwork is on view inside the Japan Society’s galleries—Chiho Aoshima, Aya Takano, Hideaki Kawashima, and Noboru Tsubaki—are featured on more than a thousand MTA subway placards that appear inside the doorways of subway cars.



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