Aida Makoto: Monument for Nothing

The first museum solo exhibition of Makoto AidaMonument for Nothing, at Mori Art Museum, may just as well be the single most important cultural event of the year. Regardless of how you feel about Aida's creative output there is no denying that he's the only Japanese artist who can match, and often outmatch Takashi Murakami (the ultimate criterion whom all Japanese artists measure themselves against) both in scale and impact while doing so by incomparably far more modest means than his lifelong rival. By dragging viewers into the disturbing world of collective anxieties masked with candy sweet images of innocent looking girls, glitter and pink Aida continues his crusade on salaryman, sexism, consumerism and a lack of ambition that have become the norm in modern-day Japan.

Walking through the exhibition which covers everything from Aida's childish doodles to the massive, painstakingly detailed paintings along with his signature DIY clutter of cardboard and empty plastic beer boxes it becomes clear why Aida has never reached the mainstream success he's long overdue—he is a writer who happened to be (really) good at painting, but was never content with it, repeatedly choosing WHAT over HOW. In fact, his hard to pin down eclectic style is his biggest strength. He has much more in common with his literary hero Yukio Mishima than his fellow artists when it comes to sensitivity, depth and social awareness. His ongoing refusal to please the public is only further testimony to that. Given his inborn talent, charisma and good looks he could have easily become the poster boy of Japanese Art, instead he chose to remain unpredictable, uneasy and raw, just the way artists used to be—real.

We applaud Mori Art Museum, its Chief Curator Mami Kataoka, long time Aida's supporter and gallerist Sueo Mizuma and the only person whom Aida thanked at the opening reception and rightly so, his closest ally, Eriko Kusaka, for making this exhibition come to life.

All installation views were photographed at “Aida Makoto: Monument for Nothing,” Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. Through March 31st.

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