(Japan 1927 – 1994)
The artist Baba delights in using the immediate appeal of simple lithographic colouring to sweeten his satirical observations of contemporary Japanese society and its insatiable consumerism.
In this particular print Baba has organised his images into the squares of a board game: an ironic comment on the modern consumer society's version of a mandala, the Buddhist representation of an ideal universe. In Baba's mandala the icons of popular culture replace Buddhist deities in an unrelated montage of the funny and the fearful, the comic and the historic, East and West, past and present. All of these images have been absorbed into modern culture with no acknowledgement of their relative significance and cultural value, and no distinction between the ordinary and the extraordinary. Divorced from their original contexts, these images have been selected for the intensity of their emotive associations.
Typical of Baba's work are the gaudy colours and the sideshow atmosphere that belie the seriousness of his concern about the direction and substance of modern novelty-hungry Japan.
Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Japanese Prints: The Urban Bonsai, 1992, pg. 24-25.
Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Japanese Prints : The Urban Bonsai, Sydney, 1992, 23 (colour illus.), 24, 25. cat.no. 6
The Urban Bonsai: