With magnifying glass in hand, I was scouring the mind boggling detail of Manabu Ikeda's History of Rise and Fall (which Japan Society gallery director Joe Earle discusses in detail in this video), when I nipped a glimpse of a Cheshire-ish cat peeking slyly from some overgrown castle curtain.
Bye Bye Kitty!!!, which closes Sunday June 12, but not the only one who injected some feline felicity into their art. The show is littered with them.
bakeneko-esque beast looks on hungrily (or warily or indifferently--so catlike!) at the playful, psychedelic carnage of Harikari School Girls.
Bye Bye Kitty!!! catalogue, curator David Elliott comments on the "feral expression of fighting spirit" of Hisahi Tenmyouya's Defeat at a Single Blow, Robust and Magnificent Feature. But this dressed-for-success white tiger is giving a Cringer-worthy, over-the-shoulder smeyes that would give Tyra a runway walk for her money.
Finally, a basket of bob-tailed beauties preen at the foot of a pet tomb in Yoshitomo Nara's iconic untitled photo.
And while there are plenty more animals in the exhibit (some astoundingly crafted, others dangerous or dripping blood), "the show is less about Hello Kitty and the cult of supercuteness than about reasserting the relevance of an anxiety that has always been present in Japanese art" and so much more.
That said, if there are any dog lovers who have made it this far:
Image Credits: Manabu Ikeda (1973-), “History of Rise and Fall (detail) 2006. Pen and acrylic ink on paper, mounted on board, 78 3/4 × 78 3/4 in. (200 × 200 cm). Photo: Kei Miyajima. Courtesy Mizuma Art Gallery. Takahashi Collection. Copyright © IKEDA Manabu. || Makoto Aida (1965-) "Harakiri School Girls" (detail), 2002. Print on transparency film, holographic film, acrylic, 46 3/4 × 33 3/8 in. (119 × 84.7 cm). Courtesy Mizuma Art Gallery. Photo: Kei Miyajima. Watai Collection. Copyright © AIDA Makoto. || Hisashi Tenmyouya (1966-) "Defeat at a Single Blow, Robust and Magnificent Feature, Gallant and Brave Behavior" (detail), 2008. Acrylic and gold leaf on wood, 70 × 231/2 in. (178 × 60 cm), 70 × 34 in. (178 × 86.2 cm), 70 × 231/2 in. (178 × 60 cm). Photo: Kei Miyajima. Collection of Katsumi Nozawa. Copyright © TENMYOUYA HISASHI. || Yoshitomo Nara (1959-) "untitled" detail, 2008. C-print, 10 1/2 × 7 7/8 in. (26.6 × 20 cm). Courtesy Tomio Koyama Gallery. Copyright © Yoshitomo Nara. || Yamaguchi Akira (1969-) "Postmodern Silly Battle: Headquarters of the Silly Forces" (detail), 2001. Oil and watercolor on canvas, 72 3/4 × 30 in. (185 × 76 cm). Photo: Keizo KIOKU. Courtesy Mizuma Art Gallery. Takahashi Collection. Copyright © YAMAGUCHI Akira.