GAKYOUCYUUNEN BY ESOW

HAPPENINGText: Miki Matsumoto

55DSL” has been introducing its unique style, a mixture of culture and fashion. At the root of 55DSL, which started in 1994 as a premium streetwear brand, there’s an attitude of respect toward action sports and street culture, such as skateboarding, surfing, cycling and graffiti. Although 55DSL has been deeply involved in art and music, this time, for the purposes of supporting the activities of imaginative artists, 55DSL opened a gallery space called ‘STUDIO55.’ In Japan, there have been three gallery spaces inside of 55DSL stores opened up in Tokyo, Nagoya and Kobe so far.

Gakyoucyuunen by ESOW

The first artist chosen to exhibit was ESOW who has been active as an artist and a skateboarder. He started skateboarding when he was thirteen, and encountered graffiti after he moved to the United States when he was seventeen. His work can be seen on a wide range of media from murals, to canvases, to street wear brands, and he has received strong support, especially from the street scene. ESOW, who belongs to a skateboard team in Tokyo called ‘T19’ and also is a member of ‘Ryokudokai (RDK)’, has a background derived from foreign street culture with a Japanese sensibility. In his work, characters often appear which show a combination of humor and melancholy on their faces, bringing a unique view of the world.

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The exhibit, which was held along with a gallery opening, includes a variety of his new and old work on display. At the 55DSL Tokyo store, the staff renovated a permanent skate ramp space for this exhibit. The original characteristics of the store perfectly matched ESOW’s world resulting in a very cozy environment.

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55DSL is located in one of Harajuku’s back alleys, one step away from the hustle and bustle of the area. Many plants welcome customers at the entrance. Once they enter the venue, in addition to the three-dimensional object and paintings, they will find paintings on brightly colored glass bottles, backpackers’ guitars and other things. While equipped to convey the spirit of street culture, a unique atmosphere that doesn’t converge on specific countries or region is provided. Art at the exhibit has been painted on unique materials (not just panels or canvases) such as pieces of wood that ESOW made by cutting wood scraps from timber dealers. The content reflects ESOW’s overflowing feelings and ideas.

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The exhibit’s title ‘Gakyoucyuunen’ means ‘middle-aged mad painter’. The title was inspired by the nickname of the Edo period ukiyoe master, Hokusai Katsushi, who was called ‘Gakyouroujin’, meaning ‘elderly mad painter.’ To indicate his respect for Hokusai and his lifelong, tireless quest for new styles, ESOW’s variety of old and new works are lined up at the gallery. The motifs of his work vary from pictures that capture the day-to-day activities of ESOW’s community, things that are reminiscent of Japan’s four seasons, and the universe.

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The exhibit is also being held at 55DSL stores in Nagoya and Kobe. Most of the works on display are for sale. Also, limited T-shirts especially made for this exhibit are available for sale as well. Feel free to check them out when you visit the store.

Gakyoucyuunen by ESOW
Curator: RED ONE PRESS
http://55dsl.jp

55DSL TOKYO
Date: April 13th – June 30th, 2013
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 20:00 (non-regular holiday)
Address: Junguumae S bldg, 4-27-2, Jinguumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Tel: +81 (0)3 5775 9755

55DSL NAGOYA
Date: April 17th – June 25th, 2013
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 20:00 (non-regular holiday)
Address: 3-28-3-, Sakae, Nakaku, Aichi
Tel: +81(0)52 249 5662

55DSL KOBE
Date: April 18th- June 25th, 2013
Opening Hours: 12:00 – 20:00 (non-regular holiday)
Address: 3-3-4, Shimoyamate Dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo
Tel: +81 (0)78 325 8900

Text: Miki Matsumoto
Translation: Yumico Miyagawa
Photos: Tadamasa Iguchi (INFOCUS)

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