Saturday, March 7, 2009

Takeshi Yamada's Museum of World Wonders

Takeshi Yamada was born in Osaka, Japan and moved to the United States in 1983. He has had over 300 art exhibitions, including 34 solo art exhibitions, at galleries and museums in Spain, the Netherlands, Japan and the United States. His artworks are part of the collection of numerous museums.

Yamada started producing a series of artworks inspired by horseshoe crabs after his first visit to Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York in 2001. By combining the mythology of "Princess Otohime of Dragon's Palace" in China, "Tale of Urashimatarou" in Japan, stories of western mermaids, and the Buddhist concept of reincarnation, Yamada painted the portratit of Princess Otohime on the prosoma of a horseshoe crab shell as a ceremonial spiritual object at "Palace of Ocean."

He has also produced a series of "Warriors Ceremonial Masks" on horseshoe crabs as ceremonial objects similar to the Japanese "Haniwa" at Palace of Ocean. "Haniwa" is a clay-image figure to be buried with emperors and kings to protect them in the after life. Their facial expressions and helmet details were painted after careful examination of the intricate patterns appearing on the horseshoe crab shells.

I regard myself as a “Visual Anthropologist” and my artworks as a “Visual Encyclopedia” because they are furnished with comprehensive descriptions and cross-cultural anthropological research behind them. With my creations, I have had over 400 fine art exhibitions including 42 solo shows at museums, universities, nature centers, fine art galleries, art centers, and midways internationally.

My recent super-realism artworks reflect my investigation of the unique and distinctive culture of Coney Island area of Brooklyn, New York. This culture is called “Coney Island Sideshow”. At one time, Coney Island was much bigger than Disney World, Six Flags and Hollywood combined. Coney Island was literally the center of entertainment culture and the universal hub where the most spectacular beauties, curiosities, oddities, monsters and marvels were gathered from around the world to satisfy the human mind, intellect and imagination.

At the sideshow, I was particularly fascinated by the series of “specimens” of mythic creatures on display, which are called “gaffs”. Gaffs are a form of highly specialized hyper-realism sculptures simulating artifacts of curiosities and oddities (some are completely fictional, such as Fiji Mermaid and Jackalope) displayed at the pay-per-view sideshows behind large, vividly painted large banners. Historically, gaffs have been a vital part of the “Cabinet of Curiosities” (also known as Wunderkammer or wonder-room). The cabinet of curiosities was a collection of natural history specimens kept and often displayed in cabinets by many early practitioners of science (and they were symbols of wealth, social status and power by international trade merchants) in the early 16th century in Europe, and were precursors to today’s natural history museums.

With these in mind, I have created over 500 post-super-realism and neo-taxidermy artworks simulating the treasures of the cabinet of curiosities. Examples of them are 6-feet Fiji Mermaids, 5-feet Chupacabra, 31-feet giant sea serpents, dragons, two-headed babies, shrunken human heads, fossilized fairies, nuclear radiation giant stag beetles of Bikini Atoll, Canadian hairy trout, New York City giant subway bugs, king tarantulas, Mongolian giant death worms, two-headed snakes, four-legged turkeys, vampire monkeys, Chinese flesh-eating mushrooms, two-headed and six-fingered alchemist, human-faced insects, artifacts of the Dreamland Fire of 1911 in Coney Island, relics of ancient civilizations, sea rabbits of Coney Island, giant prehistoric horseshoe crabs, alien specimens collected by the Area 51 US military base, and Coney Island brand exotic canned foods, among many others. With my collection of curious, odd and mysterious specimens, artifacts and artworks at Takeshi Yamada’s Museum of World Wonders, I want to celebrate one of the primal desires of human nature, which seeks the mystery and wonders of the universe. >>END

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