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Men and Cats – a solo show by Hiroki Otsuka
May 26 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Men and Cats
by Hiroki Otsuka
Opening: Fri. May 26th
On view: May 26th – June 11th
Sundays 1 – 5 pm and by appointment
Artist Hiroki Otsuka’s solo show, Men and Cats, plays with two popular motifs that are found in both historic and contemporary Japanese art. The first is a bound figure; the second, the cat.
Male figures are presented in shibari, an intricate form of restraint – a practice developed in Japan between 1400 and 1700 as a tool of law enforcement and warfare. Patterns of knots became more intricate with time, eventually reflecting the status of the captive and the artistry of the captor. The art of shibari quickly took an erotic turn, both in practice and in art. It appeared in woodblock print illustrations from the 17th to 19th century, and is also popular in present-day erotic manga. The cat, similarly, appears throughout Japanese art and pop culture – from depictions of the 11th century novel The Tales of Genji to the brightly colored worlds of Hello Kitty and Neko Atsume.
Otsuka’s process to combine the two, man and cat, uses both traditional and contemporary methods – Sumi-e drawings are done with the traditional brush and ink at a single setting, gold leaf is painstakingly laid on by hand, and the usage of skateboards as canvases speaks to Otsuka’s love of pop and street culture. His inspiration is drawn from various periods and artifacts – Japanese gay magazines from the 1970s and ukiyo-e woodblock prints, as well as the work he has done as a manga cartoonist for the last 25 years.
By bringing these two motifs together, the bound captive and the playful cat, Otsuka hopes the viewer can find moments of unexpected joy – the tame meets the untamed, the erotic meets the adorable, old traditions meet new.