Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Pop Goes the Geisha

I am looking forward to seeing Tezuka the Marvel of Manga which is now showing at the National Gallery of Victoria. It opened last Friday and as eager as I am to see it, I will wait another week or so in the hope that there will be less of a crowd by then. I find crowded galleries distracting, especially when I am interested in the art hanging on the wall...when I am not, they are a welcome distraction.

It is no secret that I have been inspired by Japanese pop culture, (and traditional culture), for a number of years. The pop influence is probably more evident in my earlier works.
In 1993, my first solo exhibition at Jackman Gallery consisted of works of a pure pop nature with the theme being Japanese Geisha. There were many reasons I chose that particular subject, reasons that stem far beyond my fascination with Jap-Pop culture and with Geisha themselves. Reasons I will not go into, not in this post anyway.

My 2004 exhibition moved away from the Geisha theme but the Japanese influences were evident in other ways. One reviewer described the new works as 'painterly pop'. Whatever the case, I felt my art was moving in a new direction, at least stylistically, which is why I painted Astro Geisha.
During a review of that exhibition on
Radio Australia, Phil Kafcaloudes referenced that particular piece and his own interpretation of it...
"...Maynard is heavily influenced by Japanese culture, especially what is dubbed Jap-Pop culture. An eastern version perhaps of Warhol or Lichtenstein, which includes Astro Boy, from the 1960's, a Japanese cartoon character with rocket legs. Maynard paints him as a her, as a transsexual Geisha in a kimono still flying off to save the world..."

That last line still makes me laugh.

With an obvious reference to Astro Boy this piece was a fun and symbolic one for me as it was the last piece I painted in a true Jap-Pop style.
Astro Geisha was not painted as a transsexual. She had green eyes, as do I, and she wasn't flying off to save the world, just flying in a new direction.

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