Writer Rebecca L. Rhoades // Photo Courtesy Phoenix Art Museum
On Sunday, Nov. 6, Phoenix Art Museum will premiere Mr.: You Can Hear the Song of This Town — an exhibition of large-scale graffiti-inspired paintings, drawings and installations by one of today’s most popular Japanese artists.
Influenced by manga — a genre of Japanese art that includes comics and graphic novels — and anime — Japanese cartoons — Mr.’s vivid and often chaotic works explore themes of tragedy, desire, trauma and fantasy and showcase kawaii — or “cute” — characters with wide eyes, colorful hair and round, childlike faces.
“Mr. was one of Takashi Murakami’s proteges,” says Jeremy Mikolajczak, Phoenix Art Museum’s Sybil Harrington director and CEO. “He is closely associated with Superflat, a post-modern art movement founded by Murakami. What’s great about this is it’s his first major show in the U.S. in six years. It’s also an area we’ve never truly explored — anime, manga, the different nuances that happen within Japanese contemporary art.”
Artworks spanning the 1990s to 2022 include nearly 50 paintings, drawings, sculptures and video works. The exhibition will also feature the world debut of a new 30-foot-long canvas as well as a recent museum acquisition.