Narwhal Contemporary is pleased to present Ambrosial Affair, an exhibition of new works by internationally celebrated Japanese artist Junko Mizuno. The second in a three-part exhibition series titled ‘Junko Mizuno’s Food Obsession’, Ambrosial Affair invites viewers into a world of delightfully dark and erotic food fetishes that views eating as a metaphor for female sexual appetite and power. The twenty works on display highlight Mizuno’s mastery of both traditional Japanese and contemporary illustrative techniques. Using acrylic, ink and graphite Mizuno has created visually stunning and content-rich pieces that walk a fascinating line between the adorable, humorous, mysterious and grotesque.
With a greater practice that ranges from graphic novels to painting and designer multiples, Mizuno’s oeuvre includes traditional fairy tale tropes like revenge, retribution, tragedy and indulgence. Flowing lines combined with geometric shapes and symbolic content endow the works with the feel of an empowering emotional awakening that echoes the vibrant energy of Fin de Siécle European art. Spanning from her art deco and art nouveau influences are specific nods to the dark and alluring poster styles of 19th century illustrator Aubrey Beardsley and the 1960s female-dominant bondage fetish comic book illustrations of American artist Eric Stanton. Mizuno has reimagined these histories through female Shojo gothic horror scenes and pinup girls that act as stylized expansions of her roots in the graphic novel and comic book genres. With bold black graphics and broad planes of deep, smooth colour that support details drawing from numerous sources, the works typify Mizuno’s unique and attracting trademark style.
Mizuno’s work is rich with historical and cultural influence, reaching across centuries of human history and spanning traditions from both Eastern and Western worlds. One reoccurring image is that of the iconic multi-armed goddess cloaked in symbols of life and wisdom, surrounded by fleets of devoted minions and enveloped in flames that will never consume her. In a fascinating and humorous contemporary twist, Mizuno seamlessly integrates elements of popular food culture into these scenes of holy devotion. The goddesses of Ambrosial Affair are armed with coffee pots and pomegranate juice, surrounded by rainbows of bacon and speaking in the tongue of fried eggs. Interested in the ‘sin’ of over-eating, Mizuno has created scenes that fetishize food as a source of self-pleasure and a receptacle for sexual desire. Staring out at us with enigmatic eyes and knowing smiles, these goddesses are mischievous and selfish, using their hedonistic tendencies to increase their seductive draw. With traditional powers of fertility, reproduction and grace in tact, the subjects of Mizuno’s paintings embody a playful and empowered energy that reclaims food consumption as a source of female pride and shameless joy.
Runs February 21 – March 21, 2015
About Junko Mizuno
Born in 1973 Tokyo, Japan, Junko Mizuno is an internationally acclaimed artist who works within fine and commercial art worlds. As an accomplished illustrator, Mizuno began her career as an emerging graphic novelist in Japan with her manga adaptions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales Princess Mermaid, Cinderalla and Hansel & Gretel and her original comic series Pure Trance. As a rare female comic creator in Japan, Mizuno pioneered stories of powerful female protagonists within imaginary worlds that are equal parts American psychedelia, contemporary kawaii and gothic horror. Mizuno’s sweetly titillating horrific depictions of classic tales appealed to international audiences and she soon developed an intense cult following worldwide. Her most recent narrative work includes Hell Babies, Ravina the Witch and the series Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu.
Text by Alex Bowron