2018 Spectrum Acquisition: Gajin Fujita
Los Angeles native Gajin Fujita draws upon his Japanese American heritage for his mural-sized, powerfully iconic and vibrantly layered paintings. Embracing two worlds, Fujita’s works combine elements from traditional Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints with aspects of urban street art. In these works, graffiti, spray paint, stencils and markers mix with classically applied gold leaf and acrylic paint.
Ukiyo-e prints, translated as “pictures of the floating world,” were created during the Japanese Edo period, from the 17th to 19th centuries, and were originally devoted to themes of transitory beauty, fleeting pleasure and entertainment. Ukiyo-e featured courtesans and kabuki actors, as well as characters from Japanese history and folklore. Fujita uses these same subjects, but his samurai and geisha take on the LA urban scene with references to street crews, art history, sports teams and American pop culture.
In creating Fight (2016), Gajin Fujita looked to the woodblock prints of ukio-e artist Katsukawa Shuntei, and specifically to a detail from of Hangaku Gozen Battling with Inage no Juro (c. 1813-18). This 19th-century print depicts the famously beautiful female warrior Hangaku Gozen defeating the samurai Juro. Fujita was especially interested in the image of the rare she-warrior and considers Fight to be an homage to his mother-in-law who was battling breast cancer at the time. Looking closely at the image reveals many modern symbols and logos, including those for breast cancer awareness.
Fujita has a BFA from the Otis College of Art in California, and a MFA from the University of Nevada. His solo exhibitions include the Hunter Museum (February-May 2015), the Pacific Asia Museum, CA, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, and the Weatherspoon Art Museum, North Carolina. His work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; the Hammer Museum, CA; the Kemper, MO; the Toledo Museum of Art, OH; the LA County Museum of Art, CA and several others