Sanbusaku 2 三部作 (2)

The second installment in our three-part Japan series explores the bright, colorful, often-wacky world of Japanese pop art. The part of Japan's culture people often think about first, Sanbusaku 2 jumps into the kaleidoscopic, two-dimensional and three-dimensional universe of twenty-one artists who embody the irreverent and playful side of 21st century art from Japan. Discover the psychological visions of these artists who embrace reality by altering our perceptions.

Featuring cover artwork by Kiyoshi Awazu


Aiko Nakagawa was born in Tokyo in 1975 and has lived and worked in New York since the mid 1990s. She received her BFA degree from Tokyo Zokei University in graphic design and filmmaking before attending The New School in New York for a MFA in Media Studies. She directed the seminal digital biography on Takashi Murakami, Super Flat (1998) and ran his studio in Brooklyn. After her apprenticeship at Murakami's studio, Aiko collaborated with two American artists, Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller, for 5 years, creating work for the outdoors, galleries and print editions. She started her individual artist career as AIKO in the year 2000 and is best known for her graffiti. Her recent projects include LADY BUTTERFLY (2012), The Bowery Wall in New York (2012) and FOULARDS D'ARTISTES, AIKO x Louis Vuitton (2013).

Aiko is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作

Adachi Kakoujyo

Adachi Kakoujyo is a pseudonym used by Japanese collage artist, graphic designer and performer Ayame Adachi. Adachi Kakoujyo means "Adachi processing space." Space is a place to process memory and consciousness. She started to act and design poster for a Nagoya-based underground theatre PH-7 in 1995.  She has collaborated with many Japanese avant-garde performers such as the musical duo Kokusyoku Sumire.

Adachi Kakoujyo is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作

Aki Goto

Born in 1978 in Tokyo, Japanese artist and designer Aki Goto studied textile art at Tama Art University. Goto quotes imagery from fashion, entertainment and subculture magazines and makes drawings that emphasize gaps and distortions created by globalized pop culture. She is part of a group of collaboratives including Yuki Kimura, Yukinori Maeda and Teppei Kaneuji, who are articulating a new Japanese conceptualism through the use of unconventional yet simple materials, fractured form and environmental design. Aki Goto's paintings and drawings are presented by Take Ninagawa gallery in Tokyo. She currently lives and works in New York.

Aki Goto is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作


Born 1931 in Ibaraki Prefecture as Takao Iijima, Ay-O is a Jpanese artist, who is internationally known as the Rainbow Artist because of the rainbow-striped motifs in his artwork. He graduated from Tokyo University of Education in 1954. Ay-O started his career in the Demokrato Artist Association, which was created by artist Ei-Q in promoting artistic freedom and independence in making art. In 1958, he moved to New York. In 1961, Ay-O was introduced to George Maciunas by Yoko Ono, and formally joined Maciunas in Fluxus in 1963. He started producing his signature rainbow prints in 1964, and represented Japan at the 1966 Venice Biennale.

His works are included in the collections of numerous museums including the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo and Kyoto, the British Museum and Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Ay-O is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作

Chiho Aoshima

Chiho Aoshima, born in 1974 in Tokyo, is a Japanese artist, and a member of Takashi Murakami's Kaikai Kiki studio. Aoshima received a degree in Economics from Hosei University in Tokyo. Aoshima is best known for her computer-generated dreamy worlds of ghosts, demons, schoolgirls, and exquisite natural landscapes. In 2004, she was invited to participate in the 54th Carnegie International at the Carnegie Musuem of Art, Pittsburg. In 2005, her City Glow Series was displayed in an exhibition in the Gloucester Road tube station in London and the 14th Street - Union Square subway station in New York City. In 2006, she received a residency at Art Pace, San Antonio, Texas. Her work has been exhibited at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and Lyon Contemporary Art Museum.

Chiho Aoshima is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作

Chinatsu Ban

Chinatsu Ban was born in Aichi Prefecture in 1973. In 1997, she graduated from the Department of Oil Painting at Tama Art University. She currently works at Takashi Murakami's Saitama-based company Kaikai Kiki. Elephants wearing underpants or tights are main characters of her works. In February 2005, she had her first solo show in the US at Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York. In the same year, her giant yellow elephant sculptures were exhibited in New York City's Dorris C. Freedman Plaza.

Chinatsu Ban is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作

Hajime Sorayama

Hajime Sorayama was born in 1947 in Ehime Prefecture, Japan and entered Shikokou Gakuin University in 1965. In 1967, he published his first work PINK JOURNAL, and in the same year he dropped out to study art at Chuo Art School. In 1968, Sorayama graduated from Chuo Art School and started to work as an illustrator at an advertising agency. In 1972, he began working as a free-lance illustrator and drew his first robot, which became his most notable subject, in 1978.

Sorayama is known for the hyper-realistic images of fanciful women he creates with brush, pencil, acrylic and paint. His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally.

Hajime Sorayama is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作

Hiroshi Nakamura

Hiroshi Nakamura, born in 1932 in Shizouka Prefecture, is a Japanese artist who is known for his style that combines Social Realism and Surrealism. Nakamura graduated from Nihon Univeristy College of Art in 1955 and held his first solo exhibition at the Takemiya Gallery, Tokyo in 1956. Nakamura's early work was influenced by the American military occupation in Sagawa and the resulting conflicts between the townspeople and soldiers. His later works took a more surrealist turn, with common motifs being high school girls. Nakamura helped found both the Tourist Art Research Center in 1964 and the Bigakko Art School in 1967, where he taught oil painting. Since 1974, his work has been presented internationally.

Hiroshi Nakamura is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作

Jun Oson

Jun Oson, born in 1979 in Aichi Prefecture, is a Japanese graphic designer and illustrator. He graduated from Aichi Sangyo University with a degree in industrial design. He has exhibited his work majorly in Japan. His clients include Yamaha Music Communications, Sony Digital ENTERTAINMENT, and Dentsu among others.

Jun Oson is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作

Kazumasa Nagai

Kazumasa Nagai is a Japanese graphic designer born in Osaka in 1929, and is best known for his depictions of abstract patterns and animals. Nagai dropped out of Tokyo University of the Arts in 1951 and started to work at Daiwado Holdings Company as a graphic designer. In 1960, he established The Nippon Design Center with Yusaku Kamekura and other Japanese designers. Some of his works are collected by The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Kazumasa Nagai is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作 and Edition: Guest Editor, Stephan Breuer

Keiichi Tanaami

Born in 1936 in Tokyo, Japan, Keiichi Tanaami is an influential pop artist of postwar Japan. Tanaami took a keen interest in drawing at a very young age and often spent time in cartoonist Kazushi Hara's studio. He studied at Musashino Art University, earning a Special Selection recognition with a major design and illustration group. Since the mid 1960s, he became increasingly interested in psychedelic culture, Acid Music, and Pop Art, in particular Andy Warhol's work. In 1968, his award-winning antiwar poster "No More War" and his album artwork for the Monkees and Jefferson Airplane became a major impetus for the movement of psychedelic and pop art in Japan. In 1975, he became the first Art Director of Playboy (Japanese Edition), and in 1991 he started to teach at Kyoto University of Art and Design, where he is currently a chairperson of a Faculty of Information Design.

Keiichi Tanaami is featured in Edition: Festivus and Sanbusaku 2 三部作

Kiyoshi Awazu

Kiyoshi Awazu, born 1929 in Tokyo is a self-taught painter and designer. He received the Japan Advertising Artists Club Award at the Japan Advertising Art Exhibition in 1955, and he won the Grand Prix at the World Film Poster Competition in France in 1958. In 1959, he established the Awazu Design Institute. While consistently remaining among the top ranks of Japanese graphic designers, he has also engaged in a remarkably broad range of activities, including urban design, exhibition design, and film production in collaboration with artists from fields spanning from architecture and music to literature and cinema. His works are included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and the Museum of Modern Art, Toyama.

Kiyoshi Awazu is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作

Makoto Aida

Makoto Aida, born 1965 in Niigata, Japan, is a preeminent figure of Japanese contemporary art. He received his BFA and MFA in painting from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Aida is best known for his provocative paintings of pretty school girls, war scenes and salarymen. His major exhibitions include "The American Effect: Global Perspectives on the United States, 1990-2003" (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2003), "Roppongi Crossing: New Visions in Contemporary Japanese Art 2004" (Mori Art Museum, 2004), "Bye Bye Kitty!!! Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art" (Japan Society, New York, 2011).

Makoto Aida is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作

Mika Ninagawa

Mika Ninagawa, born in 1972, is one of Japan's most celebrated art and fashion photographers. Her signature style is bathed in vivid colors and is dreamlike in its manipulation of depth and field. Her portraits, landscapes, and still lifes feature themes of flora of fauna, and many celebrities seek out her portraiture. She is formally represented by Tomio Koyama's gallery in Japan, and her work has been exhibited widely in Japan and abroad. She has had installations at Colette in Paris and Arndt and Partner in Berlin and regularly participates in Art Basel Miami. In 2001, she received the prestigious Kimura Ihei Award.

Mika Ninagawa was published by Rizzoli New York in October 2010. It is the first monograph to be published in the West on Ninagawa. It features a forward by Daido Moriyama and contributions from Takashi Murakami, Antonio Marras, and Anna Sui.

Mika Ninagawa is featured in Edition: Rizzoli: Art and Sanbusaku 2 三部作


Born in 1969, Mr. is a Japanese contemporary artist based in Saitama Prefecture. Mr. graduated from the Department of Fine Arts, Sokei Art School in 1996 and started working as an assistant to Murakami as well as developing his own solo career in Kaikai Kiki Studio. Mr.'s work focuses on the fetishistic obsession with young adolescents, technology, sci-fi literature, manga, anima and video games in Otaku Culture. His participation in Murakami's 2000 exhibition "Super Flat" was a starting point of his international recognition.

Mr. is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作

Tadanori Yokoo

Born in 1936 in Nishiwaki, Hyogo Prefecture, Tadanori Yokoo is one of Japan's most intentionally recognized graphic designers and illustrators. In 1956, he started his career as a graphic designer at The Kobe Shimbun newspaper. In 1960, he joined the Nippon Design Center and worked primarily in commercial design. In the late 1960s, after traveling to India, Yokoo became interested in mysticism and psychedelic art. In 1969, he won the grand prize for prints at the 6th Paris Youth Biennale. Three years later, he held a solo exhibition at Museum of Modern Art in New York and in 1974 won the gold prize at 5th International Poster Biennale in Warsaw. Since 1981, after viewing a Picasso retrospective at the MoMA in New York, he decided to retire from commercial poster design and focus on his career as a fine artist.

Tadanori Yokoo is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作

Takashi Murakami

Born in 1962 in Tokyo, Takashi Murakami is an internationally prolific contemporary artist. Murakami's art encompasses a wide range of mediums in both fine art and commercial art. His work has been best noted for his use of vibrant colors and the incorporation of motifs from Japanese traditional and popular culture. Among his recurring motifs are smiling flowers, skulls, Buddhist iconography and the sexual complexes of Otaku Culture.

Murakami received his BFA, MFA, and PhD in Nohonga (Japanese painting) from the Tokyo University of the Arts. In 1994, Murakami received a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Councial and participated in the PS1 International Studio Program in New York, where he started to explore a distinctive Japanese artistic style that differentiates itself from Western contemporary art. He founded the Hiropon factory in Tokyo in 1996, which later evolved into Kaikai Kiki, an art production and management corporation. In 2000, Murakami published his "Superflat" theory in the catalogue for a group exhibition he curated for the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Takashi Murakami is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作

Taro Okamoto

Taro Okamoto, born in 1911 in Kanagawa, is a Japanese artist noted for his abstract paintings and sculptures. During the 1930s, he studied at Pantheon-Sorbonne University in Paris where he was deeply influenced by abstract artists and surrealist artists in Europe, especially Picasso. After World War II, Okamoto developed an interested in Japanese mysteries, especially Jomon artifacts which he encountered during a trip to Tokyo National Museum. Okamoto journeyed all over Japan to research what he perceived as the mysteries concealed beneath Japanese culture, and he published Rediscovery of the Japan - Topography of Art in 1958. One of his most famous works, Tower of the Sun, became the symbol of Expo '70 in Suita, Osaka, and it is currently located in the center of the Expo Memorial Park.

Taro Okamoto is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作

Tetsumi Kudo

Tetsumi Kudo was born in 1935 in Osaka, Japan and graduated from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts in 1958. In 1962, he moved to Paris and did not return to Japan until 1987, three years before he died. Kudo is known as an enigmatic figure in postwar art, bridging disparate artist tendencies in the latter half of the 20th century--including French Nouveau Realisme, international Fluxus, Pop Art, 1960s anti-art tendencies, and 1980s Japanese postmodernism--without specifically belonging to any of them. Throughout his artist career, Kudo addresses themes of commodification, impotency, illness and despair emerged during the increasingly technological and commercialized world of the 60s and the 70s. His works are held in public collections including Aomori Museum of Art, Aomori, Japan, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Museum of Modern Art, New York and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

Tetsumi Kudo is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作

Yanobe Kenji

Born in 1965 in Osaka, Kenji Yanobe received a MFA in 1991 from Kyoto City University of Arts. Since the early 1990s. Yanobe has been working on the theme of survival and revival after a nuclear holocaust. In 1997, he visited Chernobyl wearing a radioactive suit, which became the inspiration of his best known Atom Suit project. His works has been collected by FNAC Fond National d'Art Contemporain in France, University Art Museum in Santa Barbara, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art among others.

Kenji Yanobe is featured in Sanbusaku 2 三部作

Yoshi Sodeoka

Japanese artist and musician Yoshi Sodeoka has been producing art projects since the early 1990s. He studied art and design at Pratt Institute and his digital artwork has been featured in many museums including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Tate Britain. His work is in the permanent collections of New York's Museum of the Moving Image as well as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Yoshi Sodeoka is featured in Edition: Festivus and Sanbusaku 2 三部作