Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Keiichi Tanaami's psychedelic world

(Coca-cola and flag, 1969)
The Japanese artist, Keiichi Tanaami’s has a show at Sikkema Jenkins&Co. It brings back vivid colors and dynamic characteristics of Pop art in the 60s. That period's iconography and consumerism is especially well-blended in his works. Tanaami’s work includes familiar subject matter, such as Mickey Mouse, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a Japanese flag, the Mona Lisa, Hollywood stars, and the Statue of Liberty. However, using these recognizable and symbolic objects or figures from the world, he creates an unrealistic, unusual but fascinating world in his works, which hold colorful illusions.


Tanaami creates his psychedelic Pop art by referring to fellow Pop artists’ works, and editing the Pop-culture of the 60s.Tanaami’s works reminds me of James Rosenquist’s pop art collages, Roy Lichtenshtein’s cartoons, and Andy Warhol’s consumerism works, Marilyn Diptych and Campbell’s Soup Cans, in particular. It feels like he combined all the characteristics from these masters, such as Lichtenshtein’s dot patterns or Warhol’s color combinations within each composition.  His works can be seen as typical in that manner, but he achieved uniqueness in his works by adding vivid and provocative color combinations with radically asymmetrical compositions, and erotic content in which the level of sexual expression can sometimes even be disturbing and haunting.

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           (Girl in Mirror by Roy Lichtenshtein, 1964)                  (Marilyn by Andy Warhol, 1967 )
I thought the works on display at the gallery were new, and when I learned that they were made about forty years ago, I was quite surprised. Tanaami created dozens of drawings, prints, video animations, and collages influenced by his frequent trips to New York City since 1967. Through his color choices, subject matter, and compositions, his glaring ‘cartoon style’ works from the sixties are still fresh and hip enough to have believably been made in 2014.

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(42nd street Scissors, 1969)

(Photo courtesy of *REVIEWED


  1. Tiffany, nice review of Keiichi Tanaami’s show. I do not remember seeing this show in Chelsea, did we go as a group or is this something you saw on your own? I really like that you used several pictures so we can really see the range of mediums and colors in the pieces. While you are totally right to say these pieces remind you of famous works of pop art, you never use the word or talk directly about the appropriation that Tanaami is so fond of. Maybe you could talk a little more about why the sexual content can be disturbing… could it be because it is paired with a children’s icon like Mickey Mouse?

    1. It was a small show we all went together, and thanks for a helpful comment. :)