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All street art

Coverage: Sneakerwolf “The New Abnormal” in Shibuya, Tokyo

February 3, 2021
4 min read
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Japanese artist SNEAKERWOLF recently had his latest solo exhibition in elephant STUDIO, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, organized by WATOWA GALLERY. The exhibition which is entitled “The New Abnormal” will run until the 7th of February.

The series “The New Abnormal” which treats the alphabet established by SNEAKER WOLF as a radical of Chinese characters and resembles <EDO-MOJI>, is positioned in the tradition of graffiti culture in that it is “unreadable”. Although it is a language, it looks abstract when it is in a single language world such as English-speaking countries and Japanese-speaking countries. The fictional Chinese characters, composed of parts of the alphabet, are an attempt to keep others from understanding, and reflect his own rebellious attitude in a playful manner.

In addition, SNEAKERWOLF has established its own style by controlling the “impulse” that the graffiti culture has revealed with craftsmanship. SD(Super Deformed) conversion, which he uses, is a method of simplifying the elements of anime and manga characters and compressing the ratio, and can be said to be a characteristic form that shaped the cute culture of early Japan. What’s more, he has recovered to the SD style, including the dripping of paint called drip, which is one of the characteristics of the spray depiction used by graphic writers.

On the other hand, this SD conversion also shares the characteristics with the MATOI(Firemans coat) used by fire extinguishers in the Edo period and the typography of Edo characters used on the back of happi coats and SENJA-FUDA. In addition, the SENJA-FUDA, which was popular in the middle of the Edo period, is said to have started with the act of sticking a piece of paper with your name on it in a place that is as hard to peel off as possible to show that you have visited a shrine or temple. In other words, this SENJA-FUDA was about 200 years ahead of Vandalism, a style of sticking stickers around the world like BNE. In addition, there was a tendency that KABUKI characters, in which the names and performance names of KABUKI actors that were popular around the same time were intentionally written to be difficult to read, should be read by those who can read them. The style of SNEAKER WOLF is vandalism that transcends time and nationality by standardizing multiple cultures into the style of SD while quoting the typography of Edo used for Kabuki characters and Senjafuda and its spirit. Refine your impulses as a craftsman.

SNEAKEREWOLF uses the strokes I drew and the works of artists related to graffiti culture as an application. Although the work is an extension of graffiti culture, it is catchy like pop art, and it cleverly escapes the dullness of the kanji graffiti that we are accustomed to, and the authority of the genre is seriously teased.

Text by Yuzu Murakami, Watowa Gallery

In contemporary Japanese art, pre-modern art styles such as UKIYO-E, folding screens, and Japanese paintings have always been quoted and reinterpreted. What SNEAKER WOLF practices in this exhibition is an invention that positions Edomoji between “writing” and “drawing” and adds artistic value in relation to street culture, and can be said to be a discovery.

Check out below to see more photos from “The New Abnormal”.

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