Wars are fought by people, but equipment has always been critical to their ability to perform in battle. Now, imagine a time machine that could equip Genghis Khan with rocket launchers, or Napoleon with a division of Panzer tanks — that would change the course of history, wouldn’t it? Tokyo artist Akira Yamaguchi explores the idea from a Japanese perspective with the hallucinogenic history lesson that is his new exhibition, “Japan/China and Japan/Russia Fantasy War Drawings.”
Yamaguchi, 33, has long been juxtaposing different historical eras in his expertly executed and finely detailed ink-on-paper drawings, and acrylic- and oil-on-canvas paintings. His works have real sophistication. The artist does not simply drop a salaryman into a Tokugawa pastoral scene, rather he seamlessly integrates disparate period moods, clues and symbols, and does this so cleverly that it is often only apparent on close inspection. For example, one picture shows a man in a yukata, sitting on zabuton in an old izakaya, with the mama-san hovering over him with a tray holding not a flask of sake, but a baby-bottle of milk. Other examples, such as the Russian cavalryman riding a half-horse, half-motorcycle, make juxtapositions that are not as subtle but no less well-integrated.
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