In Peach Boy (2016) Gajin Fujita draws his primary inspiration from Toyohara Kunichika, a Japanese woodblock print artist. Kunichika is one of Gajin’s favorite artists and is known for depicting theatre actors. 

The particular woodblock print Gajin is referencing is a scene from “ami moyo toro no kiku kiri.” Gajin selected this image because the samurai has a monkey cape/hoodie and 2016 is the Chinese year of the monkey. 

Peach boy is a famous tale in Japanese cartoons. In Japanese he is called Momotarou, Momo (peach) Taro (kid). He was a boy that was born out of of a big peach and was known for his heroic feats helping the less fortunate. Gajin’s palette is also based on the original print and the samurai’s clothing incorporates the Chinese character for peach, which may be found in the hexagonal design. A small and intriguing detail is the mark depicted on the inside of the Monkey’s cape (bottom left) where there is a reference to the Ben Davis gorilla logo. A small reference to L.A. sub culture, Ben Davis clothing is a line worn by gang members.

IMAGE: Gajin Fujita, Peach Boy, 2016, spray paint, mean streak, paint markers, 12k & 24k gold leaf on wood panel, 24 x 16 in. (61 x 40.6 cm) 

Dynamic Duo:

Everyone’s doing hybrid these days but Gajin Fujita really knows how to make it pop. The California-born artist, son of Japanese parents, brings manga, graffiti, Ukiyo-e, Chicano posters, and lots more influences together in Duo (2009) and the other works in “Made in L.A.,” his solo show at L.A. Louver. One you read the painting, add Batman to the mix. Welcome to Los Angeles. 

Courtesy L.A. Louver, Los Angeles

Come by the gallery this weekend – we’ll be open on Saturday rain or shine! Along with our Richard Deacon solo exhibition in the main gallery, we also have a group exhibition in our second floor space where you’ll find this work by Gajin Fujita titled Study for Hood Rats (ES LOS), 2012.

This study is actually one of the stencils he used to create his painting Hood Rats. To see stencils like this one in action, here’s a video that documents Gajin’s precise techniques for painting with stencils.

Samurai in Graffiti-Streaked Streets: Gajin Fujita’s New Paintings at L.A. Louver

Battles between samurai, ghosts, ancient gods and demons are the stuff of Japanese legend. Traditionally depicted in elegant “ukiyo-e” woodblock prints, they are rendered in spray paint against gritty, graffiti-covered backgrounds in Gajin Fujita’s new paintings on wood panels on view at L.A. Louver

Fujita, a celebrated Los Angeles-based graffiti artist and painter, has long been inspired by the Japanese master printers of the 18th and 19th centuries. The artist is known for juxtaposing the historic and mythic content of their classic prints with the imagery of contemporary cultural trends—from hip hop to anime. 

Fujita’s 13 new works are his most ambitious and complex to date—ranging in size from diminutive to muralesque—and are on view until July 2.

Gajin Fujita, Pacific Ghost (detail), 2014, spray paint, acrylic paint, paint markers, Mean Streak, 12k white gold and 24k gold leaf on wood panels. ©Gajin Fujita. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA.

Gajin Fujita, Demon Slayer (detail), 2015, spray paint, paint markers, Mean Streak, 12k white gold, 24k gold and platinum leaf on wood panels. ©Gajin Fujita. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA.

Gajin Fujita, Thunder God Queller (detail), 2014, spray paint, paint markers, 12k white gold and 24k gold leaf on wood panel. ©Gajin Fujita. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA.

Gajin Fujita, Mystic Magic (detail), 2014, spray paint, paint markers, acrylic paint, 12k white gold and 24k gold leaf on wood panel. ©Gajin Fujita. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA.

Gajin Fujita and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

With Gajin Fujita: Ukiyo-e in Contemporary Painting and Masterpieces of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi both on view at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, we’re sharing a few images of the works that can be seen in each exhibition.

Viewing these works in counterpoint to each other, one can see how ukiyo-e, 17th-19th century Japanese woodblock prints, like those by famed Japanese artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892), have influenced Gajin Fujita’s work through color palette and subject matter. However, what is also evident are the similarities between the traditional technique of ukiyo-e woodblock printinmaking and Gajin’s process of stenciling – each involves an exact layering of color to build the desired imagery. The following videos illustrate these two unique approaches:

(above video via the Pacific Asia Museum blog)

It truly is special to have the works by Gajin Fujita and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi reside under the same roof, and would like to thank the staff at the Pacific Asia Museum for making these exhibitions possible, and for generously providing us with additional images for this post!

We hope you have the opportunity to visit the Pacific Asia Museum before these exhibitions come to an end.

Gajin Fujita: Ukiyo-e in Contemporary Painting  on view through October 7.

Masterpieces of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi on view through August 12.

Images Left to Right; Top to Bottom: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892),Kintarō Snaring a Giant Carp (Kintarō horigyo), Japan, July 1885, Woodblock print on paper, Collection of Ed Freis, Courtesy of Pacific Asia Museum; Gajin FujitaGolden Boy After Kuniyoshi, 2011, gold leaf, platinum leaf, and silver leaf with spraypaint and paint markers on wood panel, Private Collection; Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892),Gojō Bridge in the Chronicles of Yoshitsune (Gikeiki Gojōbashi no zu), Japan, 1881, Woodblock print on paper, Collection of Ed Freis, Courtesy of Pacific Asia Museum; Gajin FujitaShore Line Duel, 2004, gold and white gold leaf, acrylic, spray paint and Mean Streak on wood panels, Private Collection.   


Edo Pop - The Grafic Impact of Japanese Prints
Exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Oct 30, 2011 - Jan 8, 2012

Full image titles:

Iona Rozeal Brown, American, born 1966
One for the Money, Two Faux the Show (Still Pimpin’), after Katsukawa Shun’ei’s The Actor Ichikawa Komazo III, 2006
Acrylic, gold leaf on panel

Kitagawa Utamaro, 1753/54–1806
Love for a Farmer’s Wife, 1795–96
Color woodblock print (nishiki-e)

Gajin Fujita, American, born 1972
Crew, 2002
Spray paint, acrylic, and gold leaf on wood

Kabukidō Enkyō, active ca. 1796
Ichikawa Yaozō III as Umeōmaru, 1796
Color woodblock print (nishiki-e)