01-14 sat—01-29, 2023
PAGIC Gallery is pleased to present “Kyawawa Dobutsuen,” means “Kawaii Zoo.” This is a collaborative exhibition by Okaerikuma (Toshiyuki Sakai) and Mameko Maeda.
The two artists, each with their iconic facial expression style, will present a special and lovely collaboration, including “Okaerikuma wearing a Mameko Maeda style hat” and “Maeda Mamiko’s drawings wearing an Okaerikuma style costume.”
Please visit and look at the straight eyes of these “kyawawa” animals.
Okaerikuma (Toshiyuki Sakai)
Due to the domestic travel boom in the Showa period (1926-1989), “carved wooden bears” became a standard souvenir of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island.
During the Meiji period (1868-1912), with the development of Hokkaido and the rise of the folk art movement, the carved wooden bear was nurtured as a part of Japanese culture and was widely loved as a brilliant icon of Japan’s economic and cultural development.
Today, as the status of travel and lifestyles have changed, the bears that were cherished in tokonoma (alcove) as souvenirs are increasingly losing their place.
“Okaerikuma,” which means “Welcome Back Bears,” is a project to collect bears that sadly end up in storage rooms as unused articles, recarve them, and hand them over to people who will take good care of them once again.
For Mameko Maeda, “body” is an idea that lies at the foundation of her expression.
The body was her first artistic material, as she learned modern dance and jazz dance since she was a child.
The artist, who has a deep interest in using bodies consciously and their possibility, gives thumbs-up to cute and healthy bodies. She focuses on the stretching and contraction of the body and the tension and wrinkles that arise.
Maeda’s works are characterized by the expressionless face of a person staring straight at you, which shows a solid self that is not swayed by the evaluations of others.
It is an expression of admiration and respect for the courage to be oneself, whether bold or eccentric.