DON ED HARDY:
WHEN WEST MEETS EAST
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DON ED HARDY:
WHEN WEST MEETS EAST
May 17 through June 14, 2008
My life’s work has been to strike a balance
between my classic, formal education—both
in terms of the tools of printmaking and other
Eastern and Western traditional mediums—and
the work’s resonance with the visual culture of
—Don Ed Hardy
13 March 2008, Santa Monica–—Track 16 Gallery is pleased to present Don Ed Hardy: When West Meets East, an exhibition of new works that continue the artist’s unique exploration of the fusion of Japanese, American, and Pop visual traditions. The exhibition will be on view from May 17 through June 14, 2008, with an opening reception on Saturday, May 17, from 6 to 9 P.M. For further information, please visit www.track16.com or call 310 264 4678.
Hardy’s recent paintings on pink handmade paper exude a surreal stream of consciousness, looseness, and comic style. Depicting strange creatures, they layer an impossible hybridization of mythological characters and totem-like designs borrowed from Asian, Northwestern American, and ancient Mexican motifs. At once funny and disturbing, Hardy’s fantastical creations and dense visual references resonate with the ecstatic spirit of Dada’s most adept graphic practitioners, Francis Picabia and Max Ernst, who also mined and reshaped the pop culture imagery of their day into absurdist fantasies.
Also on view are another group of exotic objects that rely on depth and layering to take Hardy’s sophisticated visuals to a new level of painterly intensity. Mixed media works made of cast resin and stacked with vintage Hardy celluloid tattoo stencils make a three-dimensional kaleidoscopic reference to 60s Pop Art and surf-board making, early and seminal influences on Hardy. A panoply of themes and references permeate these works that combine painting, prints, scans and other pop culture detritus into sculptural objects.
Beginning in 2006, Hardy traveled to Japan to develop a new body of work. There he met and continues to work with traditional artisans in media ranging from porcelain to silk. Bringing his usual experimentation to historic Japanese forms of expression, the gallery will also show original Arita (Imari) porcelain pieces Hardy created in collaboration with traditional craftsmen. Hardy’s post-modern interpretation and East-to-West-to-East cultural inversions infuse this white and blue pottery with his 21st century neo-California sensibility and style.
“For Hardy, painting and tattooing are not separate activities; rather they inform one another,” says the KQED commentator in a recent segment on the artist. “With all his artwork, Hardy attempts to create a world of mystery, humor and weird beauty that eludes categorization.”
Hardy’s interest in cross-cultural referencing does not stop with his art. A curator, editor, and chronicler of culture through his Hardy Marks Publications, the concurrent exhibition Kustom Japan: When East Meets West and accompanying book includes a Foreword written by Hardy. Kustom Japan features photographs by Michael McCabe and original works by some of Japan’s premiere pin-stripers.
ABOUT DON ED HARDY
A Southern California native born in 1945, Hardy acted on his childhood determination to become a tattoo artist and underwent a tattoo apprenticeship while simultaneously receiving a B.F.A. degree in printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1967. Considered one of the founders of modern tattooing, he developed the artistic and expressionistic potential of the medium with emphasis on its Asian heritage. In 1973 he lived in Japan, studying with a traditional tattoo master—the first non-Asian to gain access to that world. He resumed these studies in Japan throughout the 1980s. Hardy pioneered the pop-culture tattoo-as-art space decades before the worldwide boom in tattoo art that permeates popular culture.
In 1982 he and his wife, Francesca Passalacqua, formed Hardy Marks Publications and have written, edited and published over twenty-five books on alternative art. Now in its second printing, Tattooing the Invisible Man pays homage to Hardy’s lifetime of work. In addition to showing his own works at galleries and major museums, Hardy has curated a number of exhibitions including the groundbreaking Pierced Hearts and True Love: A Century of Drawings for Tattoos at the Drawing Center in New York and he frequently lectures at museums and universities.
His work has appeared in numerous periodicals, books, and films internationally. In 2000, he was appointed by Oakland mayor Jerry Brown to that city’s Cultural Arts Commission and he awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the San Francisco Art Institute. In 2004 “Ed Hardy”, a major fashion line featuring his artwork, was launched internationally. Hardy and his wife now divide their time between Honolulu and the San Francisco Bay area.
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