torstai 29. maaliskuuta 2012

Artist of the Month: Murakami Takashi.

Konnichiwa minna!

OMG you guys smile I was going through my statistics and 'The truth behind animal abuse part 1' is my most read entry ^_^ Not far behind is 'Luis Royo' and the third most read entry is 'Girl look at that body. I workout'. 
^_^ It makes me so happy to see that people are interested in such issues as animal cruelty and working out. After all, there isn't even a handful of people I know, who want to spread awareness of the cruelty animals have to endure in our ultra modern society. It was less than a month ago when I heard about this german sheperd Vucko, whose face was blown off by a firecracker cry Two drunken teenagers in Bosnia duct-taped a firecracker in Vucko's mouth and then left him to his demise. He survived the ordeal. However after he was rescued and examined, the vet revealed that even constructive surgery wouldn't help. Vucko had to be put to sleep. 
If people, and especially young people, are not raised to respect all life, what kind of grown ups can we hope to see in the future? I'm already concerned about the 'I want it all, and I want it when I say that I want it' attitude the young people seem to possess today. In America, people are asked not to buy 'easter bunnies' if they are going to abandon them few weeks later because they are too lazy to take are of the bunnies. This kind of behaviour makes me angry shark In my books, people and animals are equals. And I'll help fellow humans as much as I'll help animals heart 
I'll try to find time to update the next part for the animal cruelty 'series'. Naturally part 2 will be about animal testing. See my vegetarian entry for lifestock and meat eating issues. Animal testing has been a big issue for me ever since I was a teenager. So that entry should be an interesting one, and by interesting I mean heart breaking, make-me-cry-for-days kinda thing. But again, people really need to know about this stuff so that together we can find other alternatives to test our 'junk' in the future.

  Murakami Takashi.

Murakami-sensei...where do I even begin. You know, in college we were asked to keep journals and analyze our favourite artists and artists etc relevant to our subject/course. It's weird, I used approx. 3-5 pages per artist and I still got maybe a C+ for my journal work --_-- Maybe my tutors gave up when they saw how much I had written. I had a sneaky suspicion that they weren't really reading my stuff even though 30% of my practice is actually in writing. I let my paintings speak for themself, but their true meaning is more than skin deep. My pieces true context/meaning lies in my journals. My point is that I analyzed Murakami-sensei's work in my drawing module's journal in 2009, and again in my painting module's journal in 2011. It's safe to say, I still haven't got the faintest idea of how he comes up with these results, even though the meaning of the pieces is something completely different (well I suppose you can't really tell by just looking at his work, what he is really trying to put across).

727-727. 2006.
That first picture, is relatively new. I have been keeping an eye on his practice, and I haven't seen him including himself to his pieces before. Which is actually pretty interesting. Why is he choosing this time to include himself? I haven't seen him doing self-portraits before. And if he has, those must have been like, symbolical.

Murakami (1963) was born and raised in Tokyo. While attending the Tokyo University of Arts Murakami had in mind to become an animator, that was until he majored in japanese style painting called 'Nihongan'. He has BFA, MFA, and PHD in Fine Art. In 1994, Murakami received a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council and participated in the International Studio Program 1 in New York for a year. One might say that during that one year in NY he began to develop the strategies and methods he would later on use in his art practice and business. When he returned to Japan he began to generate art that was 100% Japanese and, to be blunt, would sell in the West. He began to explore the Japanese 'low' culture, aka manga and anime and the subculture of otaku. The inspiration he gets from anime and manga and most importantly from the otaku culture (not forgetting Japanese society as well) are still major factors in his work. His artistic impulse and style is driven from this Japanese 'low' culture, but he is also, shall we say, a business man. He knows what sells. Which is partly why he works in paintings, sculptures as well as what is considered commercial media, like fashion and animation. I can see why he is considered as quite a genious for blurring the line between high and low art, and making low art high art.

Kawaii, Summer Vacation. 2002.

In 2002 Murakami began his collaboration with the fashion brand Louis Vuitton. He contributed artwork which was used in the design of a series of handbags and wallets, and needless to say, it was a huge commercial success. His LV gig brought him widespread fame.
In 2007 Murakami made the cover artwork for Kaney West's 'Graduation' album and directed and animated West's 'Good Morning' music video. 
In May 2008, 'My Lonesome Cowboy' (1998), a sculpture of a masturbating boy, sold for $15.2 million at Sotheby's. 
In September, 2010 Murakami became the third contemporary artist (first Japanese) to exhibit his works at the Palace of Versailles. He filled 15 rooms and the park with his sculptures, paintings, a decorative carpet, and lamps. 
Murakami is the founder and president of Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. The company handles the production and promotion of Murakami’s artwork and projects and manages the careers of select young artists. Murakami has devoted himself to supporting the careers of a younger generation of Japanese artists (including female artists).
And we mustn't forget his other projects, campaigns and workshops.

Deidara (Naruto Shippuuden)
In Naruto Shippuuden episode 123 (hehheh 1,2,3)..Deidara says 'Pop is dead. My art is Superflat!' You can imagine my eyes going like O_O 'Did he just say, superflat?' I had to rewind, and what do you know, he says his art is superflat (same in the manga vol 38 or 39). I had to chuckle, since Kishimoto-sensei is regarding Murakami in his manga =^_^=
Superflat is Murakami's invention. It describes both the aesthetic characteristics of the Japanese artistic tradition and the nature of post-war Japanese culture and society. But in short, describes Murakami’s own style. And if one may trust my resource, the term 'superflat' can only be used by Japanese artists. Däng, and I was beginning to think that my work would someday be superflat-ish. tongue (in case it's still unclear, I'm not Japanese). So I can see why Dei-Dei would want to call his art (exploding sculptures xD) superflat.

In the beginning, I mentioned my habbit for keeping a journal. Actually I keep various journals, one or two per project. Based on all the interviews and articles I have read, it would seem that sensei and I share a mutual habbit of taking things deeper. What one may see on the canvas/paper isn't all the image is about. One may draw opinion from Murakami-sensei's pieces, but in the end every piece he makes has its own meaning. I reckon, my paintings tend to tell a story, whilst Murakami-sensei's pieces carry messages. Sensei's work may seem happy and colourful, but it's actually the complete opposite. Murakami said in one of his interviews that his piece aren't about the happy and positive aspects of the Japanese society and otaku culture. In fact they tell of more mean and desperate things.

The Apocalyptic Champ.
I can see elements that are typical in otaku culture in Murakami-sensei's work. The colours, cuteness, funny yet bizarre characters are very otaku. I like his paintings and his sculptures equally. I think his sculptures are more famous than his paintings (in the West). He has done excellent job in creating art that is completely new, yet at the same time is very Japanese. Even if I didn't know that this work was done by a Japanese artist, I (and pretty much anyone who knows anything about art) could tell that the pieces are Japanese. 
In my case, the problem is that I'm having hard time figuring out his pieces. Yes they are beautiful and really interesting to look at and very contemporary. However I don't really wanna go in to too much detail of what I think each painting may mean. That is because Murakami-sensei has said (interview) that his art records the struggle of the discriminated people in Japan (mostly otakus). Apparently Japanese girls especially use cosplay to escape reality. In cosplay they may enter a fantasyland which is much more interesting than dealing with their daily lives. I have to agree with that. I personally use my imagination to escape my daily life. It would be so much boring if I didn't imagine myself as shinobi from Konoha on daily basis wink I most of often paint my own fantasylands, and I can understand what Murakami is looking to express in his work, but I wouldn't want to escape to sensei's fantasyland. Too psychedelic for me. Supposedly his pieces express his society's situation and are a proof that he was born and raised in such place.

A picture of the Blessed Lion who stares at Death. 2009.
I saw the 'Kawaii' sculpture in Helsinki in 2005. There was an exhibition on Japanese contemperary art featuring several famous Japanese contemp. artist including manga-kas. I had been reading about Japanese culture since 2003 and I was studying Japanese at the time, so the exhibition was a real treat for me grin I went there with my little sister and we saw 'Kawaii' (it was featured in the exhib. poster too). Back then I had no idea who Murakami Takashi was. So it was so cool to rediscover his practice like 4 years later. I actually like his 'discriminated flowers' sculptures better, than his character sculptures. I do like the anime characters, but he has made such beautiful and impressive sculptures out of his 'discriminated flowers'. I just like the way he designs and builds those flower sculptures. 
I reviewed this Lion painting in one of my journals. It tells of an old Japanese mythology in which a lion drives evil out from a buddhist temple. Based on my research, in this painting Murakami-sensei is mixing mythology with 'Poku' (Pop-Otaku) culture. Even Japanese mythology can be modernized. Which I guess is the joke here. He constructed the image from 4 large mixed-medium 'paintings', and it seemes to me, this constructing thing is very popular among contemp. artists. It is a beautiful piece. I wouldn't mind putting that up on my wall, but sensei's larger piece sell for millions so...

I like to think that the most interesting (and successful) artists have their own way of observing the world. Artists should dismiss realism and enter their own world, from where they then observe the real world. Personally, I keep mixing imaginary with realism all the time. Mostly it's real places, imaginary characters. And I think Murakami does a great job expressing himself and the subject. He has come up with an interesting way to carry out messages about his country and society. Even though he sticks with the same style and characters, he keeps reinventing them over and over again. I have been living in my fantasyland, but sensei's work got me thinking what art and an artist is supposed to be. Is art a field and medium which we need to calculate carefully in order to become superstars and succeed like crazy (research and then give people what they want). Do we seriously need to come up with a whole new art movement so that we have something to give to the public, and to ourselves? Is it artist's job to search what people want to see, and then make them think what he/she is giving them is what they really wanted.

Discriminated Flowers at Versailles. 2010.

I'm sorry if this artist review seemed a bit off. I have been doing 9h shifts this week + I'm going to Paris next monday. I'm doing 10h, 9h and 7h shifts this weekend so I barely have time to do anything --_-- I still need to pack, update my lovely metallic pink Ipod and print out maps. So I just threw this review here as quickly as I could (Yeah really quickly, took me 4h without breaks to write this). Sorry, I'm just tired and I was supposed to start packing today and I wanted to finish my first painting for this group exhibition I was selected be part of. It's in June, and yes in Helsinki. I'll give out all the details later. I just feel that I could have done much better job with this entry, but since March is almost over...

Still I hope you found this entry on Murakami Takashi insightful. 

I'll see you next month! Take care!


torstai 15. maaliskuuta 2012

My Beauty Regime (prelude: summer look)

Konnichiwa minna!

Spring is slowly coming to Finland smile I hear daffodils are blooming in the UK already ^_^ Can't wait to see wood anemones and liverleaves (those little dark lilac flowers). It has been 3 years since the last time I was in Finland in spring. It is so beautiful in May, damp wooded areas are covered with wood anemones. 
I also have began putting together my summer looks. A year ago (2011) I began this thing where I put together a few outfits that will be my 'main outfits' in summer. Last year one of my 'main outfits' was a look inspired by Jodie Foster in 'Taxi driver'. In January I saw various runway looks inspired by 'Taxi driver'(German Vogue). I really liked those looks so I went for it. Below is my own interpretation. I really really like 'nude' garments wink They give a settle hint of nakedness, which is outrageous, which I like. I love love loove that hat kiss This year however I'm planning to wear more dresses.

Yes, but onto the main entry. This time I decided to something fun. I know I'm keeping this blog so my friends (and other people) could get to know me better, and it slightly 'supports' my art practice. Hence this time I'm going to be a bit more personal.

I am a makeup junkie. Couple days ago I said on my Fbible profile that the reason why I love makeups is because I can create infinite looks with them. To me it seems natural that I want to paint my face too since I love to paint paintings. Putting on makeup is my morning ritual (when I'm going out of the house), it relaxes me (and helps me to wake up) and it gives me a chance to do something creative, even on my main-income-days when I don't get to do anything artistic. The looks I create with makeups are part of who I am. I know Finns especially look down on people who stand out (especially girls) and I know Finnish girls sniff at girls who wear alot of makeup. And boys don't want girls who wear a lot of makeup because they want a girl who looks the sama every day. However I am happy to say that I don't wear makeup because I want to look pretty. I just love the colours and textures and it's so much fun and relaxing to make all these different looks grin I think of myself as a sort of a chameleon. Today I may be wearing my white baggy pants and black eyeliner, but tomorrow I may be wearing my black/pink tutu with high heels and wear green makeup. I get bored so quickly that I haven't established a specific look (like Twiggy when she was young).

However I'm not going to talk about makeups today (well just a little), but I'm going to walk you through my daily beauty routine. Note: All the products and their reviews I mention in this entry are based on personal experiences. Nobody is paying me to say nice things about their products. I'm currently using (or have used) these products and I'm just giving you my opinion on how they work. When buying beauty products, I like to read atleast a few reviews on the product before (if) I purchase it. You'll soon see that the products I use, aren't cheap. So I like to think of it as a small investment, which means I need to have all the facts before I purchase anything.

I have combination skin, which pretty much means that my skin is very oily in summer and very very dry in winter. So in winter I need to keep my skin moisturized. I'm currently using Clarins' HydraQuench Cream and that one jar has lasted for 2 winters. I'm almost done with it ^_^ It saved my skin when winter came and my skin 'dried up'. AND it's helping me with my acne problem. Moisturized skin actually prevents acne, don't ask me how this cream worked, it just did. My skin is clearer now, than it was before.

But my real skin hero is Murad's Post-Acne Spot Lightening Gel. I've got some pretty nasty, reddish acne scars on my right cheek and one on my chin --_-- Seriously they are so large and vivid that I was convinced that I could never get rid of them without laser surgery... Makeup covers them alright, but I'm conscious about them when I'm not wearing any makeup.
But my mind was changed when my little sister told me about Murad and about this gel  curly lips I was convinced enough to try this product. It has something to do with cellular water that treats acne and acne scars. If you don't believe me, check out my progress from the pictures below. In just little less than a month, my horrible scars have started to dissapear (slowly). I'm convinced that in 2 months, I should be rid of them.
To all of you who have problems with acne scars, I warmly recommend this product. You apply it every evening after your washing routine. You may experience light tingling, but that it's ok. However, if you have any allergies or skin 'problems' I suggest you ask the Murad experts (live chat) on if their products are compatible with your skin. My little sister has very sensitive skin. She can't use The Body Shop products, but her skin was ok with Murad's products grin I did my best with the shots. Pics 1 and 3 are taken in the same bathroom under the same light, no flash. Pic 2 was taken in the bathroom of my family's cabin, no flash. I took the shots after applying the gel.

1. 22.02.2012
2. 01.03.2012

3. 12.03.2012

I was my face and makeup with The Body Shop's Tea Tree Oil Facial Wash. Because it's oil based, it removes even the toughest foundation. However, this is not suitable for removing eye makeup. If this gets in the eyes, it hurts. I was once forced to use this to remove eye makeup because I had run out of my regular eye makeup remover. Well it removed the makeup, but it hurt. Because of my skin is such a good 'soil' for acne and blackheads upset I have a sneeky suspicion that this Tea Tree Wash is keeping my blackheads and pores under control. But just under control, I mean it could be worse. I have somewhat large pores around my nose and a lot of blackheads on my nose. I can't seem to get rid of them even though this products promises it will rid the user of blackheads. That's not really working for me, but I like how well it removes makeup. I have been using this product for many many years.

I use Clarins Eye Contour Gel to keep dark circles under control. I got really puffy eyes during my summer job in 2009, and really bad dark circles. So I bought this product. And it actually helped. Well it lightened my dark circles and definately fought against puffiness, but it doesn't fade dark circles entirely. I have a hate-love relationship with this product. I want to get rid of dark circles entirely, but this product only keeps them under control. This little tube has lasted for 3,5 years! I use it everyday, in the morning and in the evening and I'm still not done with it! I really like how quickly it works on puffy and tired eyes though squint But after I'm done with this, I'm off to look for a new dark circles-puffiness product.


Sorry about this layout ^_^' I'm just trying to save space...

And now a few makeup products. My favourite powder, which I cannot go without ever again is M.A.C's Prep + Prime. This powder is a-may-zaah! It's ment to set your foundation and if you are costumed to use mineral foundation, I seriously recommend this product. I have one of M.A.C'c mineral foundation's (which I now only use to highlight my cheekbones) and whenever I used their pigments to create my makeup, the flakes would settle under my eyes and grasp onto the foundation. They'd ruin my foundation even if I tried to sweep them with a fan brush. But with Prep + Prime, I can sweep all I want, and my foundation won't be ruined ^_^ Because this powder sets the foundation so well, giving me that finished matte look. From afar, my face looks flawless. AND this does not cake. So people standing close to me can see the powder finish, but it won't look thick or cakey. I noticed that if I used a regular powder on top of my foundation, it would often cake and make my foundation look really really heavy. YUCK!
But in 2010 whilst I was in Australia a M.A.C clerk recommended this for me. I LOVE THIS PRODUCT heart It's white powder so it lightens your foundation a little. It should be translucent, but I've noticed that it 'whitens' my face a little (which is good because my foundation is 2 shades darker than my skin --_-- I bought the foundation, it looked good in the store, but not so much in natural light. I didn't know I could return it so I've been stuck with the expensive foundation for almost a year now. Good thing it's an awesome foundation!). I don't mind since I want my skin to be white, but it might be a problem if you like your skin tan. 
If you are using mineral foundation or foundation that runs a little sticky, I recommend you to set your face with Prep + Prime. I warmly recommend this product to anyone who uses foundation products.

Favourite eyeliner, and mascara that actually worked:
Yves Saint Laurent Shocking pencil eyeliner and mascara Singulier. Shocking is the best bloody eyeliner I have ever used! It doesn't smudge eyelashes and its pointy sharp tip makes it easy to create stunning cat eyes. I recommend you keep this pen upside down, so the tip won't dry. After a few uses, you have to press it on your palm just a teensy bit to get the liquid stuff going. Otherwise, it handles like a dream. Even with my eyelids, my right lid is perfect, but my left is a little wrinkly in the outer corner. So it's not easy to apply eyeliner. But a YSL clerk told me to tip my head little to my right, whilst drawing the line on my left lid. And you know what, it works ^_^ No more uneven lines.  I'm never giving up this eyeliner!

Singulier brought my faith back. I have different set of eyelashes --_-- the lashes on my left eye are perfect: long and thick, but the lashes on my right eye are long yes, but thin and there is a big gap in the middle. Plus the longest lashes in the outer corner are weak and pathetic. I was becoming desperate. I was sure that I couldn't find a mascara that would separate and add volume to my lashes. But then I found Singulier. Because I have somewhat fair lashes, it's better if the mascara has a small brush or a different shaped brush (non-traditional shape). Like Singulier's shape is spiral. A rubber brush should also work on fair lashes. People with fair lashes are adviced to stay clear from the large traditional brushes. They cause clumping and the results will be anything but natural. Singulier's spiral brush really gets even the shortest lashes. It separates lashes beautifully and it doesn't clump or flake. My eyelashes looked like feathers ^_^ very cute and delicate. However the reason why I am not buying this (well in a while atleast) is because it doesn't add enough volume. I'm looking for a more dramatic look than what this mascara can offer for me. I am aware that dramatic volume may not be happening for me, but I keep hoping that I'll find that perfect mascara that delivers everything I ask for. But so far of all the designer mascaras I have tried (2 Diors, 2 Lauder's, 1 Clinique) YSL takes the cake.

Grey Area: I'm currently using Clinique's Lash Power Mascara (long wearing formula) and it's ok. I bought it because a ladie at Sephore recommendet it for my lashes. However! I hate the mascara's substance! I can only apply one layer and then it gets sticky and glues my lashes together. It's ok as long as I apply the coat quickly and from the right angle. The brush is soo tiny. So it should be perfect for my fair lashes in my right eye. But I guess my lashes aren't THAT weak because the brush is way too small to grab all of them perfectly. Lash Power is an ok mascara, and I'm happy to see this through, but I won't be buying it again. Now Dior has always been a dissaster for me. Again the mascara's substance is way too thick and gooey for my lashes. It literally glues my lashes together and I have to pry them apart with a pin. Yes a pin, an eyelash brush doesn't help at all. I thought when Diorshow New Look came out that the new brush, could make it work. Nope, again my lashes were glued together. I tried this product twice to make sure that it really wasn't working, and then I took it back to the store. So to all of you who have thin or 'combination' lashes, I'd never recommend Dior to you. Below is a pic of me with New Look, but this is after I had pryed the lashes apart with the pin.

And my so far favourite lipstick is Lady Gaga for M.A.C Viva Glam nr2. It's this nude-brown colour, kinda like cappucino colour. Like I said, I like nude coloured stuff curly lips It's a beautiful colour and it goes with many of my makeup looks.

There are two hair products that I love. First are my shampoo + conditioner by Paul Mitchell.
I use 'Strenght' because my scandinavian hair is thin. Well my hair isn't that thin per say, but it could be thicker (it's always "it could be" right?). My hair is naturally wavy, but because I keep my hair short, people can see that my hair is fair (unless the hairdresser has given me a great cut that actually adds volume by itself). Gemma from Wicked Hair (in Worcester) recommended this for me. I was using Tigi's Bed Head, Dumb Blonde and she told me that that range was too heavy for my hair type. She told me to use Strenght twice a week and the rest of the time use Dumb Blonde. Apparently if you keep using the same shampoo over and over again, your hair will get used to it and it won't make that much of a difference anymore. I went back to Gemma 1,5 month later and I asked her if she could see any difference in my hair, since I started using Strenght. I was so delighted when she informed me that she could see a clear change in my hair's condition grin Just bought these big bottles of Strenght. And I'm using them along with Bed Head's Superstar conditioner and DB Shampoo.

My other favourite hair product is Tigi's S-Factor Body Booster (Plumping Spray). This is their Catwalk range's improved hair volumizer spray. I wash my hair every other day so this spray really keeps my hair looking fresh even on the second day + it adds a lot of volume grin I spray this into my roots and then all over my hair when it's clean and damp. I style it during blow drying. Occasionally I apply it on the next day to refreshen. I believe this is my 3rd bottle. I have been using this product since 2010.

There is only one body moisturizer worth mentioning in my books. And that is The Body Shop's Chocomania range. I just got Chocomania's body scrub and it seems that I won't be needing body butters ever again (just kidding, I'm eager to try Chocomania's body butter). I have been using TBS's body butters for as long as I can remember and none of them have supplied as long lasting moisture as the Chocomania body scrub. When you scrub it on, it turns into this mixture between chocolate sauce and shower gel. You can feel the difference immediately. I'll definately buy Chocomania body butter after I run out of Maroccan Rose. And I already got Chocomania lip balm =^_^= TBS states that the Chocomania products keep your skin moisturized for 48h hours. I concur! Did I mention these products smell absolutely divine? I'm crazy about quality chocolate, and especially the lip balm and body scrub smell just like real, luxorious chocolate. But don't taste them! I tried and they don't taste like chocolate wink Let us just enjoy their work and scent.

And the last item in my beauty regime is The Body Shop's Hemp Protector Hand cream and lip balm. When winter comes, my hands get extremely dry, making the skin crack slightly. But the Hemp Protector came to my rescue heart It is very, very heavy and creamy. So I recommend you use gloves if you are planning to use this during the day. I apply it when I go to bed, so I won't be touching anything except my sheets. I hang my arms over my bed to let the cream settle + dry for a moment. This hand cream has been very helpful, since winter in Finland is tough and the soap at my work is anti-mosturizing. Same goes for the Hemp Protector lip balm. The air at my work was really like dry or something and it made my lips dry, causing them to crack slightly. But thanks to the Hemp range, my lips are no longer dry at work ^_^ Will continue to buy these products.

That's all I pretty much have to say about my beauty regime. And I can proudly say that all of my beauty products are Cruelty-Free. You see, I don't buy products that have been tested on animals. I am ethical, so I research on beauty companies etc to check that they are in fact cruelty-free. I know many designer cosmetics are in the 'Grey-Area' because they haven't announced whether they test their products and/or ingredients on animals or not (Like Dior and Chanel). But YSL for example is cruelty-free grin But more about animal testing and cruelty-free products later (in part 2 -> See part 1. for fur farming)

Since the Murad product is working out so well, I'm looking to buy their T-Zone Pore Refining Gel next. I'm also on the market for a mascara from Too Faced (first time). It's all fun to try out new beauty products =^_^=

I hope you enjoyed my little entry and found my reviews on the products insightful and helpful.
Until next time when we'll be looking at the artist of March grin

Mata nee!