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Artists embracing the Pokémon cult
For 25 years, Pokémon has dominated popular culture. Now, the legendary franchise is taking over ...
Art x Tech 10 Mar 2022
Courtesy of Daniel Arsham and Perrotin via Interview magazine

For over two decades, Pokémon’s have dominated popular culture. With countless video games, trading cards, anime shows and even a Hollywood blockbuster the Pokémon cult is still very much alive. Now, the legendary franchise is taking over the art world.

Image via Artsy

An artist who is embracing the cult of Pokémon is New York–based artist Jeanette Hayes, born in 1988. Jeanette re-contextualizes art history through the lens of contemporary pop and internet cultures in paintings, videos, and digital collages. One of Hayes’s breakout series of paintings, “DeMooning” (2014–15), puts works by Abstract Expressionist Willem de Kooning in conversation with the popular anime series Sailor Moon. This unexpected pairing underscores Hayes’s interest in art history, as well as technology’s influence on art and the frenzied visual experience of the digital age. Similar to her breakout series is her Pokémon inspired work pictured above, an oil on panel work titled ‘ Pokemon #118’, painted in 2015.

Image via Artsy

Another female artist, born in the same year, experimenting with the Pokémon craze within her art is Ukrainian artist Lina Condes. Pictured above is ‘Pokemon‘, 2016 Chameleon Fluorescent Paint, Fiberglass and Stainless Steel. Condes’s work displays attributes of feminist context, minimalism, surrealism, and pop art, infused with autobiographical, psychological, and sexual content.

Image via Artsy

Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung, b. 1976 ‘PokeMao’, Digital print on canvas created in 2011, is a perfect example of the artist’s satire work. Tin-Kin Hung is a Chinese-American new media artist who lives and works in New York. Hung’s works are digital collages of popular culture and current events. His media includes hi-definition video animation, video games, net.art, digital graphics and mixed-media installations.

©Daniel Arsham Courtesy of NANZUKA ©2022 Pokémon. ©1995-2022 Nintendo/Creatures Inc. /GAME FREAK inc.

Daniel Arsham, the New York-based artist hailing from Cleveland, is the most famous artist who likes to incorporate Pokémon within his work. The world of Arsham, is an amalgam of pop culture, fine art, and toys for big boys, so much so that his studio in Queens is filled with them, including the life-size Pokémons that he has created.

Courtesy of Daniel Arsham and Perrotin via Interview magazine

Arsham is presenting his latest Pokémon exhibit, “A Ripple in Time,” starting in February across five different venues in Tokyo. This is not the first time Pokémon and Arsham have worked together; they collaborated back in 2020 for an exhibition at Tokyo’s Parco Museum as well as another showcase at Perrotin in New York in 2021. Now, “A Ripple in Time” will showcase over 20 sculptures from the contemporary artist across a wide range of works including animations, paintings and drawings.

Arsham commented on his love of Pokémon to Interview Magazine:  ‘A couple of years ago I made a sculpture around Pikachu and it was exhibited at the Japanese gallery that I worked with. The Pokémon company reached out when they saw that work and asked if I was interested in pursuing something further with them. I had meetings with them in Tokyo, and we started to advise this long-term partnership that not only involves me taking aspects of the Pokémon universe into my work, but also integrating my work back into Pokémon animation. We did a 3D animation where Pikachu is kind of walking through this forest and stumbles upon this sculpture of Pikachu and it’s actually animated. It’s animated in the way that I remember it, which was from the 90s. So it’s all hand-drawn—it has different characteristics from what they’re done now.

And who is his favourite Pokemon do you wonder?… Mew!

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