Street art is just cool. Ukiyo-e woodblock prints are also just cool. Put them both together and you get the uber-cool identity-exploring works of Los Angeles artist Gajin Fujita, who fuses Japanese iconography with the U.S. urban vocabulary of graffiti.
Born in 1972 to Japanese immigrants to Los Angeles, Fujita absorbed his family’s traditional culture alongside LA’s hip-hop and Latino culture. He honed his artistic skills both classically as a student at Otis School of Art and Design and the University of Nevada and on the street as a member of the legendary KGB (Kids Gone Bad) and K2S (Kill to Succeed) graffiti crews.
Fujita’s works, which are often large paneled pieces much like Asian screens, draw on imagery from Japanese mythology and history, often layered onto a background that wouldn’t be out of place on the walls of an 1-10 overpass. His media too hail from East and West, with gold leaf and wood meeting spray paint and Sharpie marker.
As Fujita himself put it, “I kind of look at myself as a hip-hopper, the way of a DJ would sample all sorts of great music from the past – sounds and beats. I’m just doing it with visuals.”
Check out this video of the artist at work.
And if you are lucky enough to be in LA before July 2, you can check out his latest show at L.A. Louver, called Warriors, Ghosts and Ancient Gods of the Pacific.
I’d certainly snap up one of these for my wall if I had a big enough wall and wallet.