Makoto Aida
Picture of Mountain Stream and Others

May 11 - June 24, 2006

Andrew Roth is pleased to present new works by Makoto Aida. On view will be six new pieces including drawing, painting, and photography.

Makoto Aida is a provocateur, a prankster, a radical. He disdains the slick, corporate ideology of Murakami’s Kaikai-Kiki talent agency; he succeeds to create a more individualistic and socially engaging art form. Although best known within the Japanese art scene, he has begun to expand his audience to Europe and the US. In 2005, he had his first solo exhibition in the U.S. in San Francisco at Lisa Dent Gallery and presented Donki-Hôte at Ibid Projects in London. In 2003, he was featured in Larry Rinder’s show “The American Effect” at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He has been invited to participate in the Singapore Biennial later this year.

In his first one-person exhibition in New York, Makoto has mounted a compelling array of new works. Nothing to Lose, a mural-size watercolor painting on paper, features his signature “Rice-Ball Man” smiling as he straddles a Japanese fish-ball en route through an intestinal track on waves of excrement heading out of the body. In Japan, 2005 he presents a computer-generated line drawing of a multitude of identical mini-vans, sealed with masking tape, each carrying six seated figures and three traditional Japanese coal-burning heaters. At first glance, the figures appear identical, like crash dummies, but upon further inspection, they are each distinct: their features are drawn with different computer symbols. In the year 2005, there were over 500 planned suicides thus. Young people who met on the internet, sealed themselves up in their vehicles, lit the heater units, and were asphyxiated. Princess Masako Senpai, Cheer Up! is an oversize mixed-media work on canvas illustrating four girls — classmates of the Princess — dancing in hopes of cheering her up, as she fell into a depression after disappointing the Royal Family by giving birth to a girl instead of the desired male heir to the thrown. Lastly, in Picture of Mountain Stream, Makoto renders a delicate ink, pencil, and watercolor drawing on paper of 40 young girls languishing under a mountain waterfall and splashing in the stream below. They are scantly clothed and virginal. The image of utter innocence in this idyllic setting — harping back to traditional Japanese scroll painting — seems almost unnatural, as if an imminent doom was about to befall them. As Makoto states: “My new Picture of Mountain Stream is my most innocent and open work to date. I have always liked using irony, violence, and the taboo in my work, but decided to erase any traces of them here. If it seems too innocent to qualify as art, so be it. I drew it to please myself.”

To accompany the exhibition Andrew Roth and Sueo Mitsuma, director of Mizuma Gallery in Tokyo, have published Apt.Kubo-So #6, a signed, limited-edition book of photographs by Makoto Aida. Originally shot in 1993, they have finally been realized in book form as intended.