LONDON – Contemporary Japanese artist Chiho Aoshima has brought a distinct ambience to London’s otherwise gloomy subway with her first major public art commission in Britain, titled “City Glow, Mountain Whisper.”
The artwork — spread over 17 of Gloucester Road Station’s underground arches — features a fantasy landscape of faces, which gradually transforms from day to night and from a rural to urban scene in an echo of the daily journeys of subway passengers.
Aoshima’s distinctive work, created digitally and printed onto vinyl, is part of a wider “Platform for Art” program initiated by the London Underground.
The idea of the long-term project is to inspire the capital’s commuters and visitors as they travel around the city.
Tamsin Dillon, head of Platform for Art, believes Aoshima’s City Glow mural certainly does that.
“Her colorful, detailed fantasy landscape has found a very welcoming audience. It offers inspiration and a means to transport the viewer into a magical fantasy land away from the daily commute. We have received many positive comments about it on the ‘Platform for Art’ Web site,” Dillon said.
Many London-based community Web forums have praised Aoshima’s work, with messages in support written by local commuters as well as tourists from all over the world.
“Thank you for making what could be yet another dreary commute through London a sublime experience. I look forward to passing through Gloucester Road Station at both ends of the day,” wrote one Aoshima fan going by the initials G.S.
But with such unique digital imagery on display — integrating the age-old tradition of Japanese scroll painting with the contemporary aesthetics of “manga,” the pop phenomena of Japanese comic books and graphics — it is not hard to comprehend why subway passengers have been struck by the installation.
“Chiho’s work has rarely been seen in the U.K. to date, so we were keen to work with this young Tokyo-based artist who produces such powerful and accessible imagery in her work,” Dillon said, explaining that Aoshima had created similar artwork for New York’s subway prior to her London efforts.
“We were delighted that she accepted our invitation to produce a new work for Gloucester Road Station. Her response is ethereal, beautiful and feel-good,” Dillon added.
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