With his Lolita figures borrowed from manga imagery, Mr. has made a name for himself in the space separating irony from candor. In this ambiguous representation of pubescent amazement, he has combined the feigned innocence of Nabokov?s heroine with another era and another cultural register. What comes to mind are his works that seem inspired from the figure of the young Heidi in her underwear in the Alpine meadows. Mr. drew from the famous cartoon made by Isao Takahata after a European model (1974), altering it on large format works that deal as much with the cultural self-examination in Japan today as with the probably perversity of a young girl who refuses the victimization of a religious determinism (believe, pray and suffer in silence), in favor of salvation that comes through free will (emancipation through one?s own decisions). First noted as part of the Super Flat manifesto that challenged Japanese culture in terms of the eternal confrontation between tradition and modernity, Mr. works with the paradoxes of a westernized East ? as can be seen in his immense canvases that have been exhibited in the last ten years in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, as well as in Chicago, New York, Minneapolis, London and Paris.
Born in 1969 in Cupa, Masakatu Iwamoto (his real name) had already explored the status, legitimacy and recognition of artists before joining Takashi Murakami in Super Flat and participating in the Hiropon/Kaikai Kiki collective. This is how it all began. During his three years of art studies, he incorporated everything he had learned during his preparation for the School of Fine Arts: Arte Povera (Italy) and Pop Art through Rauschenberg (United States). In the avant-garde of new painting, in keeping with the ?new wave,? and sensitive to the work of Sandro Chia and Francesco Clemente, he created works from all manner of recycled objects that were initially disturbing. Mr. then started a part-time job in computing. And his anxiety disappeared once he resolved the dilemma opposing the minor and major arts. Everyday life is creativity. And Mr. produced 18-hour-long videos featuring celebrity television weathermen, anchormen and announcers. Doubts remained and he wanted to return to school even though he could have begun a career creating mangas. Yet he didn?t see himself in this role. Instead, he preferred to be a ?secondhand dealer.? And he started sketching Lolita figures on receipts and ticket stubs. Arte Povera: this art of the commonplace to which Mr. consistently returns has brought him critical recognition. ?Ludovic Perrin