Thursday, 4 June 2015

Akasegawa Genpei at Hiroshima MOCA

If the Akasegawa Genpei show is coming to your town I highly recommend a visit. Akasegawa (1937-2014) was a multifaceted and multitalented figure who was active as an avant-garde artist, manga creator, illustrator, writer, and a photographer.

Akasegawa got his start as an avant-garde artist when he helped form the Neo-Dadaism Organisers with Shinohara Ushio, Yoshimura Masunobu and Arakawa Shusaku in 1960. Then, after becoming active in the Hi-Red Center (as one of the three founders) he came to be one of the most prominent representatives of Anti-art.

The Hi-Red Center was closely connected to the Fluxus movement (then in its heyday) with its output dominated by stunts and happenings. An exhibition at MoMA a couple of years ago documented the activity of the Hi-Red Center in relation to Fluxus. If you want to read more about this interesting period in Japan here is a very good article:

The queen of happenings at the time was of course Yoko Ono, who collaborated with the Hi-Red Center for several projects. Here she is being measured out to get her own tailor made life size shelter (no, not the one above. Below, below!) :-))

Akasegawa's Model 1000 Yen Note series produced around the same time was deemed to be a violation of the Act on the Control of Imitation of Currencies and Securities, and led to a long court battle in 1965. This made Akasegawa's name widely known outside of the art world.

Maria of Waterdrops (1966). A mesmerising piece that shows the extent of his talent.

In 1968, after his appeal in the case had ended, Akasegawa moved into manga and illustration, and following the success of Sakura gaho (Sakura Illustrated) became a standard-bearer of parody manga.

So much poetry…

Later in his career Akasegawa moved on to photography, exploring streets in search of strange objects, constructions, found material etc. The cemented tofu wrap above is one of my favourites in that series (reminds me of Trash Sunday, oh dear…). This was only the start of Akasegawa's photographic work and there would be a lot more to say about his legacy, but I will let you do the research if you are curious :-))


  1. Is it true that you are taller than Yoko Ono?

  2. That is absolutely correct. 3cm taller. A lovely skirt she has.

  3. That tofu thingamajig is compelling.

    1. Just learned a new word, thank you :-))

  4. Your choice of image (Sakura gaho) is compelling - no matter from how far mankind views the world, his deeds are all being hung out to dry.

    1. Thank you! Do you think I would make a good curator? :-)) I find putting together pieces into a story to be very rewarding.
      - no matter from how far mankind views the world, his deeds are all being hung out to dry - that is so poetic! XXxxx