Radiating power from its erect stance, Allen Jones‘ fetishized and feminine statue Hatstand emblazoned itself upon the 651st issue of Bijutsu Techō, proclaiming the periodical’s focus as “Pop to Neo Pop, 1956-1992.” With the “neo-pop” term purportedly coined by the Japanese art magazine’s editor, Kiyoshi Kusumi, its most decidedly vocal champion would become critic Noi Sawaragi, who clarified the movement as not being simply “new pop” but rather a form of artistic expression unique to Japan. While it may frequently appropriate from the country’s popular culture, according to Sawaragi, this aesthetic is exploited by neo-pop to examine the complex history of Japan, especially concerning its military. Like a melting pot of the modern and the traditional, neo-pop encompasses a diverse range of artists, including Takashi Murakami, Kenji Yanobe, Makoto Aida, Katsuhige Nakahashi, and Hiro Ando.

The Neo-Pop Art of Hiro Ando

Transitioning one from the outside world’s mundanity into the sacred, the centuries-old Shinto shrine’s red-gate resides next to a glass skyscraper, its cloud-brushing height a monument to modern achievement. This is the comfortable dichotomy of Tokyo, the city where Ando attended the prestigious Tama Art University and, presumably, became inspired to pair the past with the future. Exhibiting this through the likes of koi fish impossibly swimming within a sprawling urban cityscape, his two-dimensional explorations of this theme are arguably overshadowed by his signature sculptural versions, most notably his anthropomorphic cat-based works.

Around mid-2006, Ando began issuing his so-called cat series with that first year’s SamuraiCat and RobotCat designs, debuting a concept that would carry through the subsequent SumoCat, UrbanCat, and WarriorCat sculptural editions. Adorning bipedal felines in traditional Japanese garb, Ando successfully appropriates his native culture’s obsession with cartoonishly cute cats, as exemplified through the success of Hello Kitty, while maintaining the serious tone of Japan’s heritage. Embodying the elegant grace, sinewy strength, and discrete power of the feline form, Ando’s sculptural renditions have been issued in fiberglass resin, stainless steel, and — perhaps most appropriately of all — porcelain.

Hiro Ando’s Newest Porcelain Edition

Having previously explored porcelain through a hand-painted edition of his SumoCat design, the use of this classic ceramic material accentuates the traditional aspect of Ando’s sculptures. Returning to this implementation of fine china, Ando has partnered with established producer K.Olin tribu for an extra white rendition of his UrbanCat creation, the roughly 8¼-inch tall form produced in an edition of 20 signed and numbered pieces. With the skewed stance of UrbanCat relaying relaxed modernity and its garb being ageless Japanese attire, this allows the Limoges porcelain itself to impart the classicism inherent in Ando’s work, forging an undeniable unity between the past, present, and imaginatively possible future.

Click Here to Purchase Hiro Ando’s UrbanCat (Porcelain Edition)

For more information on Hiro Ando:
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