contemporary art

Mr. /   Iwamoto Masakatu

Japan 1969

Sculpture, Performance Art, Video Art

Iwamoto Masakatu
December 28, 2014

Iwamoto Masakatu aka Mr. is a Japanese contemporary artist, who works in a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture and video. His works are all closely related in aesthetics, style, and theme.

Born in 1969 in Cupa, Mr. took his pseudonym from the former baseball player Shigeo Nagashima, who was frequently referred to as ‘Mr. Giants’. Mr. graduated from Sokei Art School in 1996, having been discovered by Murakami the year prior. He worked as an assistant to Murakami for the next eight years, being a member of his Kaikai Kiki studio, which has also supported Mr. in his solo career. His participation in Murakami’s 2000 exhibition Super Flat played a crucial role in earning him international attention and recognition.

A self-proclaimed otaku – a Japanese term for people with obsessive interests, commonly the anime and manga fandom – with a Lolita complex, which he says he does not act upon, his pieces depict young boys and girls in an anime and manga style, drawing upon the aesthetics and attitudes of otaku culture, and lolicon themes – a term originally shorthand for ‘Lolita Complex’.

Mr.’s works are Japanese in their anime-inspired, large-eyed characters and flat color fields. Cute and innocent on the surface, many of his works are quite sexualized, tying into the anime phenomenon of fanservice, and leaving it an open question as to how innocent his works are in the end. Critics have also questioned whether Mr.’s work reflects a commentary on otaku culture, or glimpses into a private fantasy world,though Mr. has said his art is about expressing his personal fantasies, and not about cultural commentary.

Also a performance and video artist, Mr. created anime-inspired sculptural pieces. His work, like that of his mentor, is character driven, and a small green sponge-like character Toshihiko Yokohama which he created was adopted by the pop band Kicell for their album design. A short film entitled Nobody Dies, directed by Mr. and premiered at Geisai 11 in Tokyo, accompanied by photos of the film’s characters, was the artist’s first forays into the media of video art and still photography.

Mr. has exhibited internationally in both group and solo exhibitions including the acclaimed 2005 exhibition Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture. Mr.’s work is represented in numerous public and private collections worldwide.

The artist lives and works in Saitama, just outside of Tokyo, Japan.

YearExhibition titleGallery/MuseumGroup/Solo
2014Live On: Mr.’s Japanese Neo-PopSeattle Art Museum, Seattle, WASolo
2013Mr.Galerie Perrotin, Hong KongSolo
2012A Nightmare is a DreamKaikai Kiki, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2012Mr.Lehmann Maupin, New York, NYSolo
2010Exhibition Kyoto-Tokyo: From Samurais to MangasGrimaldi Forum, MonacoGroup
2010Mr.Leeahn Gallery, Seoul, South KoreaSolo
2009Neoteny Japan- Takahashi CollectionYonago City Museum of Art, Yonago, JapanGroup
2009Sacred MonstersTufts University Art Gallery, Medford, MAGroup
2008Nobody DiesGalerie Emmanuel Perroin, Paris, FranceSolo
2008Nobody DiesLehmann Maupin, New York, NYSolo
2008KRAZY! The Delirious World of Anime + Comics + Video Games + ArtVancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, CanadaGroup
2008Kaikai Kiki ArtistsKaikai Kiki, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2008Art Los AngelesSanta Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, CAGroup
2007Mr.Lehmann Maupin, New York, NYSolo
2007RED HOT: Asian Art Today from the Chaney Family CollectionMuseum of Fine Arts, Houston, TXGroup
2007Chiho Aoshima, Mr., Aya TakanoMusee d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, Lyon, FranceGroup
2006Mr.Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, Lyon, FranceSolo
2006Nin – stealthGalerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Miami, FLSolo
2005Rising Sun, Melting MoonIsrael Museum, Jerusalem, IsraelGroup
2005Kaikai Kiki ExhibitionAoi Gallery, Osaka, JapanGroup
2005Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding SubcultureJapan Society, New York, NYGroup
2005AniMateFukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, JapanGroup
2004Thank You for Your Hard WorkTomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, JapanSolo
2004T-JunctionGalerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris, FranceGroup
2004Fiction, Love: Ultra New Vision in Contemporary ArtMuseum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, TaiwanGroup
2004Chiho Aoshima, Mr., Aya TakanoGalerie Emmanuel Perrotin at LFL Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2003Mr.Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris, FranceSolo
2003Hope—The Future is in Our HandsLAFORET Harajuku, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2003Opening ExhibitionTomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2003Mr. vs. Shintaro Miyake ExhibitionNADiff, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2002The Japanese Experience—InevitableMuseum der Moderne Salzburg, Salzburg, AustriaGroup
2002Chiho Aoshima, Aya Takano, Mr., Takashi MurakamiGalerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris, FranceGroup
2002ColoriageFondation Cartier Pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris, FranceGroup
2001My Reality: Contemporary Art and the Culture of Japanese AnimationDes Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IAGroup
2001Hiropon ShowWhite Cube Gallery, London, United KingdomGroup
2001Hiropon ShowShinsaibashi Parco Gallery, Osaka, JapanGroup
2001Yokai FestivalMuseum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2001SuperflatMuseum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2001SuperflatWalker Art Center, Minneapolis, MNGroup
2001SuperflatHenry Art Gallery, Seattle, WAGroup
2001Mr.Nano Galerie, Paris, FranceSolo
2000Venus #2Vedanta Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
2000SuperflatShibuya Parco Gallery, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2000SuperflatParco Gallery, Nagoya, JapanGroup
1999Hiropon Show 32-80NADiff, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1999Hiropon ShowParco Gallery, Nagoya, JapanGroup
1999SamplingRonald Feldman Fine Arts Inc., New York, NYGroup
1999Hiropon Show PO+KU Art RevolutionLogus Gallery, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1999Attention SpamShoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, CAGroup
1998Mr., Painter of AlpsTomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, JapanSolo
1998O-Edo Kunoichi Ninpocho (‘Greater Edo handbook of female ninja techniques’)shop33, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1998Hiropon ShowGeorge’s, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1998Ero Pop ChristmasNADiff, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1997Hiropon Showshop33, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1997Tokyo SexNAS, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1997Mr.Aoi Gallery, Osaka, JapanSolo
1996Frone & Perrine ’97shop33, Tokyo, JapanSolo
1996Pico Pico ShowTomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, JapanGroup