December 12, 2013
Proceeding with the theme of Japanese graphic arts, let’s glance back at 1993, the palmy days of street culture, when Japanese artist Usugrow first appeared. He started with flyers for underground hardcore concerts, and now he’s one of the most interesting representatives of Japanese artists.
Banksy, Shepard Fairey and others turned street art from anonymous into personal. We can see their works at galleries and modern art collections. Many graffity artists, like Craig Costello, who has become a well-known painter, keep on working in the streets despite great commercial demand for their works. But most of them have grown out of streets, as well as Usugrow has. However, he’s still stands out against both the representatives of the world’s street art scene and his Japanese colleagues.
Most of the Japanese artists nowadays are cosmopolitans, whose style has been taken by global trends. It’s hard to tell a good German street artist from a good Singaporean one. This makes artists who develop their local school, like Usugrow does, rare.
It’s surprisingly that every step of his creative development (from underground flyers to works for the museums and collaborations with major street fashion brands) has left its markings in his style. Sometimes his imagres come from unexpected sources, like those skulls from the Mexican tradition los Muertos. But you can be sure that Usugrow always praises beauty. According to the artist, street and art subcultures of modern Japan like graffiti, tattoo and skateboarding, have greatly influenced him.
And calligraphy also remains one of the most powerful sources of art inspiration for him. It’s one of the most demanded fine arts of the country, that has not only aesthetic, but also a philosophic part, which is the most important one for the artist. In Usugrow’s dusk calligraphy you can see not Japanese hieroglyphs but the alphabet invented by him.
Cholo style works
Moreover, in Usugrow’s works you can also find one of the oldest graffiti styles, which is similar to the Gothic prints.
Gothic prints examples
This style came from Latin American community in Los Angeles and became a part of American pop culture. It’s an amazing graffiti lettering, which imitates medieval writing with a wide tip plum.
Usugrow is a famous and successful painter now, he draws posters, logos and editorial illustration. A couple of years ago he wrote a book “Love Hate from JP”.
Pages from book 'Love Hate From JP'
He lives in Tokio, but he travels a lot and takes part in many exhibitions all over the world. Last summer his works were brought to the pop-up gallery Faces&Laces, and later one could see them at Stolen Space among other underground artists.
Stolen Space gallery
Usugrow about himself