Stay Gold Gallery
Japanese manga and anime, never without admirers in the West, have hit the New York art world with full force. Takashi Murakami’s immensely popular Little Boy exhibition at the Japan Society and the subsequent MoMA series on Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata unleashed mass adoration of Japanese comic-related art. And what’s not to love? Superb drawing, imaginative cityscapes and bold sexuality are some of its many charms. Enter Hiroki Otsuka, a one-time employee of the Murakami studio, who is best known for his pornographic comics. Typical of otaku comic artists, Otsuka sexualizes young girls’ bodies, but his manga stands out for its exaggerated, tongue-in-cheek style. In his first solo show at the Stay Gold Gallery in Williamsburg, Otsuka displays his paintings, which are sleeker and more intriguing than his comics. With Sumi ink on board, Otsuka paints sexual scenes so bizarre they are funny. In High Teen Road, a girl rides a guy who is contorted to form a motorcycle and in The Seed a plant stalk pierces a girl’s pregnant stomach. Between these gems are ornamental, psychedelic paintings that are more ordinary than the wacky scenes. The opaque narratives of Otsuka’s paintings differentiate them from his comics and from the work of other Japanese otaku artists. Otsuka sidesteps pure objectification by both mocking and reveling in the genre.
Her Long Black Hair
Janet Cardiff’s uncanny “walk” through Central Park, Her Long Black Hair, will be ending on September 11. On this guided audio tour, Cardiff overlays the sounds of her walk and her narration onto your own experience of the park. The piece is loosely structured around found photographs, snippets of history, and the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, but its real accomplishment is in heightening your sensory awareness. With Cardiff’s narrative, real life seems like a movie that is wonderfully satisfying to watch.