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 (Australia) (Author), Contemporary Japanese Prints : The Urban Bonsai, Sydney, 1992, 23 (colour illus.), 24, 25. cat.no. 6
The Urban Bonsai, Queensland Art Gallery, 04 Mar 1992–04 May 1992.
The Urban Bonsai, National Art Gallery, Wellington, 20 Jun 1992–09 Aug 1992.
The Urban Bonsai, Christchurch Art Gallery, 12 Sep 1992–29 Oct 1992.
The Urban Bonsai, Manawatu Art Gallery, 13 Nov 1992–10 Jan 1993.
The Urban Bonsai, The George Adams Gallery, Victorian Arts Centre, 18 Mar 1993–25 Apr 1993.
The Urban Bonsai, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 08 May 1993–01 Aug 1993.
The Urban Bonsai, Lewers Bequest and Penrith Regional Art Gallery, 11 Mar 1994–24 Apr 1994.
The Urban Bonsai, The Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, 19 May 1994–19 Jun 1994.
The Urban Bonsai, Campbelltown Arts Centre, 15 Jul 1994–21 Aug 1994.
The Urban Bonsai, Moree Plains Gallery, 11 Nov 1994–24 Dec 1994.
The Urban Bonsai, Tweed River Regional Art Gallery, 01 Feb 1995–05 Mar 1995.