Whilst I’ve largely been in Tokyo and Hong Kong purely as a tourist with my rambunctious and demanding family (there’s been more than a few cultural faux pas in Japan and cringe attacks), my sisters and I did manage to escape to go and see the excellent Image Makers exhibition at 21_21 Design Sight Museum. Jean Paul Goude is the major billing here as a whole exhibition floor is dedicated to both retrospective and new work, with the rare chance to see the infamous Grace Jones Constructivist Maternity Dress installation, created in 1979 in collaboration with the illustrator Antonio Lopez. Its presence dominates your peripheral vision as it moves mechanically from one end of the room to the other. It’s eerie, childlike and powerful all at the same time.
The total sum of Goude’s creative output is hard to sum up in one room but curator Hélène Kelmachter does it admirably and with one stellar example illustrates how multi-displinarian image making creatives don’t have to be defined by one field or skill. The likes of Goude is a photographer, illustrator, film maker, set designer, art director and graphic designer all at once. It’s why he has done everything from creating impactful stills of muses like Grace Jones and Farida to designing the Bicentennial Parade in Paris in 1989. And his latest work, which a highlight of this exhibition, sees three figures, inspired by the wise monkeys (“see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”) of the Nikko Toshogu Shrine moving in circular motion, accompanied by interpretative waltz by Jun Miyake. It’s a spell binding installation, intriguing and inspirational for people interested in any spectrum of design.
Dotted around the exhibition are examples of other multi-talented image makers. David Lynch is represented not by his film work but by a series of lithographs, created with the studio Idem in Paris, which gives Lynch and opportunity to explore a hands-on and tactile technique.
Theatre and visual artist Robert Wilson‘s video portraits appear out of nowhere, moving with subtle motion. Subjects like the actor Steve Buscemi, the writer Gao Xingjian and a porcupine named Boris root you to the spot because of their HD (literally) definition and surreal set-ups.
I discovered the work of Photographer Hal as the exhibition included his series entitled “Flesh Love” and “Zatsuran” – photographs of couples shrink wrapped with all kinds of themed paraphernalia. There was something quite grotesque and hilarious about them that dazzled the eye.
It was great to see shoe visionist Noritaka Tatehana have nearly a floor to himself as his infamous heel-less shoes are displayed alongside several sculptural works that take his obsession with manipulating the way a woman’s walk to new levels. The crystal boots which would encase the legs as if in frozen ice were particularly arresting as was the series of stacked platform geta heels, a reminder of Tatehana’s upbringing in Tokyo’s old theatre district Kabukicho.
With three creatively minded siblings all working in set design, illustration and art direction, we all got to take away something different from Image Makers. The exhibition is on until October 5th if you’re a Tokyite or in town for a trip.