Sunday, September 21, 2014

Neon kate and Photographer Series #11: watarushotkatemoss

Last week I was struck by the following headline:  

Kate Moss spends £100,000 on neon sign to see her name in lights every day

You see, kate has commissioned London neon “artist” Chris Bracey to fabricate a one-off of her own name in bright neon, hot pink tube lighting. Apparently the “eye-catching sign will have pride-of-place in the living room of her North London mansion”.

According to the rags "Kate became such a fan of Chris’ work that she wanted a piece she could call her own". So much so that one of her hanger-ons is quoted as saying that “the glitzy artwork makes her feel like a rock star, which she totally loves”.

"Maestro Chris" (a.k.a "the Brit godfather of neon art") learned the tricks of the trade from his dad and cut his teeth making sex-shop signs in Soho in the late 1970s. With his team of ten staffers, he creates the pieces either from scratch or by recycling vintage signs and old lights. He has a laundry list of other celebrity collectors of course … I mean who wouldn’t want to see their name in bright lights everyday in their living room?

All of this got me thinking as to some on-line images of an installation I saw recently by the Japanese artist Waturu Komachi. In 2007 he created his "Neon" series which included the following piece:
This piece followed his "God Save the Kate" series from 2005 which included:

Upon further investigation Wataru, who was born in Tokyo and now lives and works in Kyoto, has utilized kate's visage and name extensively within his art (many images of which are presented within this blog post) ...

Wataru began by scouting charity shops and fleamarkets for secondhand and discarded furniture, couches, chairs, hanging scrolls and lampshades. He would then re-cover them with detailed and vivid silkscreen prints of american elvises, chinese maos, indian bindi salesgirls, brit rockers and biblical imagery, all interspliced with subtle text messages. It has been stated that "it has nothing to do with recycling in an ecological way, he wants to refresh, reincarnate leftover items, offering them a second chance at life and investing them with a sense of spirituality in both the eyes of the artist and the viewer.

In 2000 Wataru presented his re-made furniture works at The Deep gallery in Tokyo. Since then he has exhibited his designs, installations, collages and paintings extensively in Paris and also London and even designed t-shirts for a Beck tour.

KATE Silk Screen on Japanese Hanging Scroll 2010
So, given the power of the internet and instant communication, iskm emailed Wataru and asked him about his work and more specifically: why does he keep coming back to kate?
Wataru Komachi (WK): I was using her a lot in 2005. She has something special that is not in the other models and celebrities. I had been using her as a sign of the times. I want to express the feeling of the times.

iskm: Why did you select the "God Save the Queen" image as your starting point with kate?
WK: I used it as a symbol of youth culture and transitioned to 'god save the kate' after the reports of her drug use of 2005. 
KATE Acrylic on Canvas 2011
iskm: How would you describe your art work?
WK: I always express the humor and sociality.

iskm: You have utilized so many interesting mediums in displaying work (including furniture, scrolls, handbags, neon). Why do you choose different forms for incorporation and display?
WK: Since Duchamp’s ready-made, in the history of the “Sampling and Remixing”, conversion of the value is not a recycling. I have done so so as not to have categorization for expression.

KATE LIPS Silk Screen on Canvas 2009
iskm: What do you do to your chosen Kate Moss images and why?
WK: At first I selected kate photos from the media. After that, I make a drawing based on that selected photo which is then scanned. The made images are then put into collage through photoshop and then I make silk screens, hand print onto paper/canvas. All works therefore are a unique edition.

iskm: Which photographer/s would you most want to most see involved in ishotkatemoss?
WK: Mr. Daido Moriyama. I respect his life story. 
KATE Photo 2013
iskm: Thanks so much Wataru. Anything else you'd like to share with the iskm audience?
WK: DON'T THINK JUST SHOOT//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

More of Wataru's incredible work can be seen at

From NYC to Kyoto people...
Observe. Slow Down. Shoot. Submit.

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