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[Image: Glenn Ligon "Warm Broad Glow (Reversed)" ©︎2021 Glenn Ligon]

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When Andy Warhol was still a commercial designer, he created “Tattooed Woman with a Rose” to be distributed to advertising agencies in New York as a publicity material for illustration jobs, and Warhol also created a print of Mick Jagger, the leader of the Rolling Stones.

Barbara Kruger is famous for her use of short phrases to create tantalizingly funny and prophetic works, sublimating the language of American advertising and media into art.

Jasper Johns, an artist who became famous for actually painting the stars and stripes he dreamed of, created a series of minimalist and abstract motifs that emphasize the shape of the letters rather than the numbers within the existing images. “Figure 3” is also available in color, but the black and white version of this work seems to be closer to the essence of Johns’ work.

Jean-Michel Basquiat is one of the most famous graffiti artists of the 1980s, but before he started painting, he was active in a legendary music band called Gray. Basquiat met a variety of musicians during his musical career, and he created the art for the record cover of “The Offs,” the first album released in 1984 by the punk band The Offs (formed in San Francisco in 1978 by Billy Hawk on guitar and Don Vinil on vocals). The first edition of this record was limited to 370 copies, making it rare and highly sought after among Basquiat collectors.

Robert Longo is an artist who rose to prominence as part of the rise of the New Painters in the early 1980s with his “Men in the City” series, in which he used keen observation to depict momentary movements of shocked human beings. In terms of borrowing and expressing images and forms from society as a whole, which is at the root of his production strategy, “Guns,” which focuses on American gun politics, seems to have been one of the major themes Longo wanted to address.

Rob Pruitt made a name for himself as an American conceptual artist whose controversial performances included cocaine buffets. One of his most popular works, which is still popular today, is a series of works featuring pandas, an endangered species, and this exhibition presents “Country Girl,” which depicts a panda in gold.

Niki de Saint Phalle is a French painter, sculptor, plastic artist, and filmmaker who is internationally renowned for her work, especially her “Nana” series, which affirms and emphasizes femininity. She was sexually assaulted at the age of eleven by her father, who was always in power at home, and forced by her mother to live in subservience to men, which gradually led to Niki’s distrust of humanity, years of loneliness, and a growing sense of solidarity with those excluded by society and the law. “Untitled,” painted in 1967, is an intriguing composition that couples a painting symbolizing homosexuality between women with a painting of contempt for men themselves. This work is typical of Niki, who has been in dialogue with herself through her work.

Rammellzee is an artist from New York, who is multi-talented in video, graffiti art, performance art, hip-hop music, and art theory, and has been working in a wide range of fields. In particular, the definition of “Gothic Futurism” in this work, “Dedication to Wild Style,” is the basis for understanding Rameljee as an artist who advocates the rewriting of the role of letters in society.

Glenn Ligon has been attracting attention since the early 1990s as an artist who visualizes and appeals to the discrimination of black people in the form of text, especially in the United States. The text “Negro Sunshine = A Bright Future for Blacks” in the work “Warm Broad Glow,” which is featured in this exhibition, was originally presented as a light source work using neon tubes. Ligon cited the title from “Three Women,” published in 1909 by Gertrude Stein, an American author, poet, and art collector.

Zenzo Sakamoto was an abstract painter active from 1911 to 1987, known as the “Gray Painter,” who painted primarily in gray and black. Whether the painting depicts a specific place, Ariake, or the original meaning of Ariake, i.e., the image of dawn while the moon remains in the sky, is known only to the artist.

Kenji Misawa’s “The Secret of Life and Death” was born from his memories of wandering between life and death after returning from brain tumor surgery. In this work, Misawa’s obsession with life as he suffered and struggled can be energetically seen.

Shinichi Hara’s new works “Heaven Fruit-1” and “Heaven Fruit-2” express aspects of the theme of Hara’s work, such as a world with love, peace, and hope, through the female body. The twisted nude body drifts through time and space, and the soul that has left the body floats as if it is connected to the universe.

Chika Akanishi is a new type of artist with a unique touch that delves into themes related to gender, sometimes replacing the figures in Manet’s “Lunch on the Grass” with feminine visual musicians. This work, titled “Roses Waiting for Spring,” is a self-portrait of Akanishi herself.

Tomoko Konoike has been using various media such as animation, picture books, paintings, sculptures, videos, songs, shadow puppets, handicrafts, fairy tales, etc. to create powerful works that transcend the viewer’s imagination, sometimes betraying it and defying convention. In “Cross-section of the Earth,” presented in 2006, Konoike’s work was seen as a kind of “painting in the city.

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