katagami papers are hand cut, mulberry paper stencil designs for the purpose of painting textiles. Treated with oils and layered with reinforcement threads, these antiques are an artpiece in themselves. So what do I do? Cut them up and start painting.
I started the process in a similar manner to collage, using the most advantageous elements of the base material. And designing excess paper as border elements gives the pieces strong compositional qualities.
Creating new designs from stencils I had already used was an additional way to remix multiple formats of media in one artpiece.
The subdued color scheme is a new exploration as well... using the natural worn tones of the paper by picking minimal color additions.
'(UN)known Icons' explores the construction of celebrity and influence through four pivotal figures from the 1960’s/70’s New York City counterculture.
Combining streetart and traditional Asian style, Wakuda creates a fusion that is both modern and timeless. With '(UN)known Icons' he merges stencil graffiti technique with classical Japanese kabuki portraits to reimagine the likes of Andy Warhol, Brian Jones, Steve Paul, and David Bowie. All of these figures influenced the world around them, but each did so in very different ways.
Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust was the original inspiration for the Icons set. Upon watching a film of his 1972 London performance (in kimono), Wakuda was struck by the parallels between his character and aspects of traditional kabuki performance- the artist began to think of other icons in the same era, and how they realized their identities would be perceived over the course of time.
While Bowie transitioned on from the Ziggy character (note the subtle ‘Spiders from Mars’ background), Andy Warhol never lost the wig and other accessories that defined him- from the precise pose of the hand on his chin, to the camera always at the ready. The parallels between traditional Japanese ukiyo-e and Warhol’s 20th century studies in color and repetition are finally connected here.
Wakuda fully explores the spectrum from unknown to icon with the five print series ‘Becoming Andy.’ Warhol begins as almost unrecognizeable- lacking any of the distinguishing characteristics and accessories that complete him, even the famous wig. But over the next four prints, the iconic details gradually fade in and stranger becomes celebrity.
On the other side of the spectrum, the publicly low-key Steve Paul’s critical eye and sharp wit made him a celebrity’s celeb. As a tastemaker for his NYC venue, ‘The Scene,’ Paul created an environment where many future legends gestated. Warhol himself designed posters for the club, and the infamous owner was always standing guard outside, his ever present joint in hand.
Finally, Wakuda uses the tragic figure of Brian Jones to examine genius and self destruction with this ‘forgotten’ icon. As founder of the Rolling Stones, Jones is still lesser known because he died, drowned in a swimming pool, before the height of the band’s fame. Known for his flamboyant outfits and consumption of psychedelic drugs, he is depicted in classic Kabuki actor style. But the variations in the paintings bring different interpretations- pill in hand, Jones seems either lost within another epic trip, or standing before his watery grave.
19x25" Beta Edition of 20.
I cut this freehand in Brooklyn when I realized I needed more work for the space I was showing art in.
Originally I was concerned tthat the image might be too basic, but the simplicity works in a positive way, as the colors of the weather are allowed to be the emotional focus.
We live in an age when technology is becoming an indistinguishable part of human existence, even as our popular understanding of it diminishes. ‘Digital Superstitions’ explores the duality of this space using the filter of Japanese history as prior cultural metaphor. Rapid industrialization of Meiji-era society meant modern scientific knowledge was in direct contact with timeless elemental folklore. The interaction of these two dissonant worlds provides a wealth of concepts through which to address modern life.
The supernatural world of the Yokai is founded on dualities and contradictions, filtered through time that stood as explanations for the unknown. When faced with eradication through the light of science, Yokai culture survived by hybridizing its most fundamental aspects in a modern context. As a meme that embodies the uknown, this discourse is an ideal way to translate conversations on environmental and futurist concerns, post-humanism, and how culture changes through the passage of time.
Starting to embrace mixed media techniques, this was the first time I really started to manifest inspiration from the streetart world.
May 6 - June 26, 2010
Artist Reception: Thursday, May 6, 5-8 pm
Pioneer Square Art Walk: Thursday, June 3, 2010, 5-8 pm
In “Future’s Past: The Black Ships,” opening May 6 at ArtXchange Gallery, Seattle artist, Jonathan Wakuda Fischer, investigates the dual perception of Japanese culture as hyper contemporary and technologically advanced, yet one that retains and prizes its ancient traditions. Using urban graffiti techniques (spray-paint and stencils), Wakuda references both modern and ancient Japanese aesthetics such as ukiyo-e woodblock prints and the contemporary superflat movement. The paintings in “Future’s Past” tell visual stories based on folklore, anime, science fiction, and Japanese history.
From the very beginning. My first experiments with multilayered stenciling and an exploration of my bi-racial heritage.