Saturday, February 27, 2016

Hello Kitty rides The Great Wave

12 x 12'', acrylic on gessoed birch panel
painting # 237, 2016

This painting combines both past and present elements of oriental art and popular culture pertaining to Japan. Last year I did a painting of the same Hello Kitty oriental take-out food inspired candy container, except this time I've opted to include the lid and present it as a vessel.

The background art is perhaps the best known artwork by a Japanese artist to the rest of the world. The Great Wave off Kanagawa (a.k.a. The Great Wave) by Katsushika Hokusai is a woodblock print part of a series entitled the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. It was created during the end of the Edo period circa 1829-1832. Here it is shown sideways off the pages of the art book, ''999 Art Works you must know, you should know and you really impress if you know'' published by Scala Group, Florence Italy (pages 520-521).

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai

I can't recall when I first saw The Great Wave, except it created a lasting impression after visiting Claude Monet's house in Giverny back in 2006.  Monet started collecting Japanese woodblock prints around 1864, which in turn would inspire him to build and incorporate a waterlily pond and a Japanese footbridge on his land beyond his flower gardens. These two elements would contribute to inspire a series of paintings which would become some of his best known work. Monet's collection of woodblock prints are exhibited throughout his house. His own artwork shown in his home however are only in form of reproductions. The Great Wave off Kanagawa can also be found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago among several others. 

During our visit to Washington DC, back in 2012, we spotted a mural of The Great Wave on the side of a building near the campus of Georgetown University that was brilliantly done.

Hello Kitty continues her phenomenal wave of popularity with owner Sanrio serving as the marketing empire using the white bobtail cat on more than 50,000 products worldwide. Her actual name is Kitty White. In 2014, Sanrio celebrated Hello Kitty's 40th anniversary with a first Hello Kitty convention. The sold-out event, a global gathering of fans and friends was held in Los Angeles from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.  A museum exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum and unique collaborations and limited edition commemorative products were also made for her milestone birthday.  

While waiting in line for Broadway Show tickets at Times Square in NYC during the Christmas Holidays, I spotted a Sanrio Store. Unfortunately, I did not have time to visit the holdings of Hello Kitty treasures it had on display. 

Sanrio Store, Times Square, NYC
December, 2015

While Hello Kitty was initially conceive for a target audience of young girls, it has definitely crossed over to the adult market as well and gone mainstream. Last week-end I saw a screening of the new Marvel movie, ''Deadpool'' starring Ryan Reynolds as the protagonist. This film is rated R. During the opening credits, there is a Hello Kitty product placement floating in space, then later on in the movie, a Hello Kitty dufflebag can be seen in the front seat of a taxi cab. 

On July 3, 2015, Sanrio announced a full-length Hello Kitty theatrical film to be released in 2019 which will certainly attract a very wide audience around the globe and increase her popularity even more.