Stevio...LA LA Lovin' It?

I'm British-born Chinese from Bristol, UK. I’m LA-based. I’m a hip hop aficionado. After 15 years in London I moved to LA to pursue a new career and outlook on life.

Back in the 80s I was a DJ. In the 90s I contributed to the world's first street style exhibition at London's Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2011, I had my first interviews published. Today, I’m keeping busy with music, art, photos and writing.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

LA's Asian graffiti in musuems

I love this artist! I saw some of his stuff up close and personal at LACMA when Tina was in town in Dec 2005. It was amazing to see graffiti mixed up with gold leaf, Japanese characters and all twisted in with references to Los Angeles (Raiders, gang signs etc.)

I read an article in Lifescapes, a West Coast art mag (now renamed), that said he was showing at the Kemper Museum in Kansas. That would make it worth a trip, but the show's passed now!

“There is no getting around it, Gajin’s work is very seductive,” seconds Elizabeth Dunbar, curator at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, who assembled Fujita’s current retrospective. “They literally are a feast for the eyes. But there’s definitely an edge to the beauty. He violates expectations. I don’t know if there is a way to define his work. It’s so many different things, he’s pulling from so many different sources. Then he makes it uniquely his own. It’s a curator’s dream, what can I say?”

Imagine that Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa was an East L.A. graffiti artist and you’ll get an idea of what Fujita’s artworks look like. At once art-savvy and street-smart, his works don’t just sit politely on the wall; they burst across the field of view like a multicultural electric spectacle for the 21st century. His paintings deliberately dazzle the eye, setting forth sensuous layers of color and patterns atop shimmering gold leaf with bold graffiti-style lettering and dramatic, oftentimes lurid, narrative imagery. At once drawn from tradition and deeply irreverent, Fujita’s works are a wild blend of sources and ideas, of high art references and popular culture: what theorists might call post-modernist, curators might call multicultural, and what the artist himself sees as ‘sampling’—a form of visual hip-hop. But for all their eclecticism, Fujita’s works are very much a personal statement, a giddy but authentic expression of who he is and where he comes from as a Japanese-American who was raised in a largely Hispanic area of Boyle Heights, in the vast multicultural sprawl that is turn-of-the-millennium L.A. Unlike those L.A. artists who defensively reject any notion of being “regional,” Fujita embraces his identity as a Southern California artist. Indeed, he parades it confidently, like a graffiti tagger claiming his turf. “I feel proud that I’m from the West Coast of the U.S.,” he says. “I certainly grew up here, was raised here. I feel this is my stomping groups.”

For a street artist, albeit one who went to school to learn new techniques, to be acquired and shown in musuems when it's no longer trendy shows the importance of Fujita's work. I'll probably never afford to buy a piece, but I'll get the book that accompanies the show!

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