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Regarding COMME des GARÇONS Recent Displays

  • 2018.01.19 Friday
  • 21:50


CDG SS18 begins.. Aoyama Tokyo installation.

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CDG18 just arrived. Aoyama Tokyo. Rest of Japan January 8th. Rest of World from January 13th

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I have recently learned, through articles in the fashion press and personal messages from my fans on social media, that a display which overtly resembles my artistic style was installed at the Aoyama store of COMME des GARÇONS in early January. I received many messages asking me if this display was my own or even went as far as to congratulate me on the collaboration. (Just to make clear, the display is not, in any way, a collaboration). 


First, let me say that it was a surprise that a high fashion brand like COMME des GARÇONS 

(hereafter CdG) would incorporate “TOKYO” and Kawaii”, the emblems of Japanese pop culture, and color, in such a display. This, in and of itself, is cause for joy. However, as someone who has been on the frontlines of that culture for over 20 years and made it the focus of my artistic practice, I feel it is necessary to comment, at this time, in order for me to continue.


CdG’s display is connected with its CdG2018SS collection and consists of countless colorful materials, such as toys and figurines, attached to a mannequin. I understand that the display has been installed at locations in CdG’s Aoyama, New York, and London stores.


The practice of collating disparate materials to form an artistic work has existed for generations. However, originality is born from the artistic and cultural context for the collage that each artist pours their heart into. Let us be clear: it is because the new CdG display expresses “TOKYO” and the post-war culture of “Kawaii” in the form of a figurative sculpture, the fact that it uses mainly toys and accessories as material, and the fact that its color composition is formed by blending these voluminous colorful materials into a single whole, that has created confusion about whether it is my own work.


My oeuvre expresses the concept of “Kawaii” through the use of multiple colors. In addition, rather than using traditional materials such as paint, I travel through different global cultures, using my own senses to gather materials. In other words, it is Harajuku, and my expression of the mix of cultures from around the world that is TOKYO, that forms a major context for my work. 


With that said, if I were pressed to define what Kawaii culture is, I would say that it begins with the idea that what we like is what we like. In order to communicate this core message, I opened 6%DOKIDOKI in 1995. Since 2009, I have leapt beyond Harajuku and toured the world with my “Harajuku Kawaii Experience.” These days, Kawaii culture has spread around the world and because I am recognized as one of the founders of that culture, I was selected in 2017 by the Japanese government to serve as a Japan Cultural Envoy. In that context, I have engaged in cultural exchange with people from around the world, and spread the message at the heart of Kawaii, the idea of creating your own mini-universe.


In terms of my artwork, one of my more prominent pieces is the “Color Rebellion” series (2010: photographic works, 2013: semi-sculptural works), which was made using the methods described above. I have exhibited my works in New York, Florida, Anchorage, Milan, Amsterdam, and other locations around the world. I believe that anyone who has researched Kawaii culture has likely come across my artwork at some point.


Regarding the CdG display, I received several messages from people of multiple countries who are familiar with my artwork. My initial reaction after viewing the photos was, “if they had wanted to do something like that, I would have loved to have collaborated with them!” This reaction stems from my pride for being the original artist to explore the themes of “Tokyo”, “Harajuku”, and “Kawaii” in this manner, and because I would like to believe that I have been a part of the community that has cultivated Kawaii culture itself. 


In the latter part of the 1980’s, and throughout the 1990’s, when monochrome was the leading trend in high fashion, my reality was in the colorful, and I used that as a weapon to develop my own oppositional individuality. I had no experience and it was rough going, but it moves me greatly to know that 20 years later, there are now people around the world who value this colorful culture. (After all, I was ridiculed by adults when I was in my 20’s and yet, the reality I had been hoping for has finally arrived!)


As an artist, I place a high importance on “dialogue”. 


For that reason, if I am asked by the media for my thoughts and feelings on this subject, it is my intention to reply.


More than anything else, I would be truly happy to have an opportunity to dialogue with everyone at COMME des GARÇONS as well.


It is my hope that these events can be a catalyst for true “dialogue” between the worlds of fashion and art, leading in turn to a greater evolution for both. For me personally, this experience, along with the many opinions and reactions of my fans, has deeply impressed upon me the need to further strengthen my artwork and their underlying context. 


Let me close by expressing gratitude to my fans and supporters around the world who continue, without end, to love the artworks of Sebastian Masuda. 


January 18, 2018

Sebastian Masuda


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