Sugipop Showcases Cutting Edge Japanese and American Contemporary Art at Portsmouth Museum of Art

PORTSMOUTH, NH – SugiPOP!: Anime, Manga, Comics and Their Influence on Contemporary Art opens on October 13th at the Portsmouth Museum of Art. The show is a collaborative effort, co-curated by Beau Basse of LeBasse Projects in Los Angeles and Katherine Doyle of the Portsmouth Museum of Art, with John Wolf as Assistant Curator. It features the work of approximately 30 established artists, and includes examples of original manga and comic art, as well as original cels from some of the most significant anime films ever made, including Cowboy Bebop and Princess Mononoke.

Starting with the origins of manga, the show visits such Japanese masters as Hokusai and Kuniyoshi in a display of original Edo period woodblock prints, on loan from the Collection of the Museum of Art at UNH. In the post-World War II years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, manga and anime, the Japanese form of comics and animation, became an outlet for expressing anxiety in its extreme portrayals of characters and themes, adopting elements of Western comics and influenced by giants such as Disney. Its explosive entry into late 20th-century pop-culture and subsequent impact on American comic art has been followed by a merging of styles and evolution into the present-day art scene. Sugi, the Japanese word for ‘too much’ represents the extreme characteristics of Japanese manga and anime, which have merged with the American phenomenon of Pop, to become SugiPOP, a blend of Japanese and American contemporary art shaped and defined by over-the-top pop. Both Japanese and American artists are represented in this exhibition, including the internationally renowned Murakami and the noted Yoshitomo Nara. Cutting–edge pieces have been created especially for the show by artists such as Edwin Ushiro, Gary Baseman, Hush and even Mike Shinoda, lead singer of Linkin Park.

SugiPOP! continues to establish a reputation for the Portsmouth Museum of Art as a presenter of 21st-century work. The artists in this exhibition have been influenced in every way by everything that surrounds them—media, technology, commercialism, history—all those elements get creatively synthesized as today's fine art. According to Co-curator Basse , 'The art forms of Anime and Manga have had a huge impact on contemporary art and particularly global pop-culture in general. While many contemporary artists are not obviously influenced by the Japanese forms, upon closer inspection a viewer can begin seeing how the style has been absorbed and re-imagined by many an artist.”

Alongside the work of these established artists, the Museum will present the work of more than a dozen new and emerging artists, offering a glimpse into the future of pop art. A special collaboration between the Museum, Forum Snowboards, Waterville Valley and Dekal, Inc. highlights a small group of regional artists who will create designs on Forum Snowboards to be offered at auction during the course of the exhibition. The joint venture is an acknowledgment of the special place manga, comic and contemporary art have as part of snowboard and skateboard subculture, and a recognition of the increasingly blurred lines between the world of commercial and “fine” art. The boards will travel to Waterville Valley as a special “Pop-Up Gallery” and will be reproduced as topsheet designs for sale on Dekal's custom topsheet website. This unique collaboration generates exposure and opportunities for new and emerging artists, a primary objective for the Portsmouth Museum of Art.

SugiPOP! Opens on October 13, 2010 and runs through January 16, 2011, with an Opening Reception on October 14th from 5:30 to 7:30 . The Portsmouth Museum of Art is located at One Harbour Place in downtown Portsmouth. Admission is free. Hours of operation for the Portsmouth Museum of Art are Wednesday-Sunday, 11:00-5:00, Fridays until 8:00; it is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Guided group tours are available by appointment by contacting the museum at 603-436-0332 or by email at [email protected]

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