West Tokyo is undergoing something of an underground art revolution these days and thanks to that increased aggregation of people and artists it seems that every weekend there is yet another amazing exhibition opening, from the Blaze silver accessory exhibition to Chaos Lounge’s latest project (report coming soon) the Tokyo underground is positively brimming with talent these days.  Today is the turn of The Skull Show organized by Tokyo Jesus which invited a number of artists to contribute work themed around skulls to participate in an exhibition that will run to the 23rd of September at Alice to Mamenoki gallery in Koenji.  Regular readers of the site will recognise the work of potter Kazumicho Maruoka, silversmiths LegioMade, Royal Recro and Anima Exists in All Creation, and it also features some of my personal favorite underground designers that I have yet to write about including Chelsea Leather Art, Human Remains (unbelievably talented silver artist) and a couple of other artists who are fresh out of art/jewelry school and haven’t even yet decided on a brand name!

Join me for a look round some of my favorite pieces from the exhibition which I will introduce in the order they are exhibited in in an effort to stem my considerable bias.

If you like skulls then you have come to the right place:

If you know your Japanese silver you will probably already be familiar with this award winning piece from Human Remains called Condensation – a skull made entirely from anatomically correct sterling silver bones.

For the record this is the kind of thing that he usually produces if you want to own a smaller piece of the larger skull.  I did ask about the price of the skull, but the designer said it would not change hands at any price.

Another of Maruoka’s fantastic serial killer themed skull cups which he uses to host his own rather macabre tea ceremonies with.

But it was not all sinister, there were a couple of fun pieces including this diorama featuring the show’s mascot “Dokuko”.

A modern and rather grotesque reading of the three-headed Buddhist god Asura.

A key-hook by Tokyo Jesus called Faith.

Fantastic new work from Anima proving that he is definitely still part of the young generation of silversmiths exploding out of Tokyo that you ought to be aware of.

Now this I fell in love with on the spot – it is all sterling and silver with brass bells and halo.  The young designer who as yet has no brand name said he made it as a wall decoration, but after I tried it on he admitted that it could be worn by the right silver fanatic!

I am sure this is a designer we are going to be seeing more of in the future – sometimes there is so much talent in Tokyo it feels oppressive.

Another piece from the same artist, this time in brass.  This is an interpretation of the Japanese god Raiden and I absolutely love the eerie finger detailing throughout.

This sculpture is by LegioMade and it is great to see such a talented guy branching out into more and more mediums.

A skull light fitting to illuminate your collection with.

It was fantastic to see this piece from Royal Necro in the flesh at last, but what I can’t convey is that the silver sculpture sits above a mirrored box that makes it look like there is an endless cavern beneath…

Some lighter and more affordable work.

All is Vanity by SOW – a ghostly skull picked out in carved driftwood.  Fantastic and apparently sold to the first visitor to the exhibition!

There you have it, proof that Tokyo is still producing obscene talent, and more importantly that people are willing to support them.  If you want to buy any of the work featured above there is an official site here, although it is being taken down from the site as it sells.  Stay tuned for more underground art coming very soon indeed – but with a completely different flavor…

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2 Responses to The Skull Show by Tokyo Jesus at Alice to Mamenoki, Koenji

  1. Andrew says:

    Wow, clearly a lot of great talent was at this exhibition. A few questions–is this related at all to the skull show that you covered sometime last year? If I remember right, the last one seemed to focus more on jewelry, but maybe that was just what you chose as the focus of your article at the time. Also when you say West Tokyo, do you mean that most of these designers are actually based in that area or just that the events seem to concentrate there?

    I definitely appreciate your coverage of this show, even if it’s not strictly about fashion (although clearly you don’t mind appropriating a good piece into your wardrobe, whether it’s intended as fashion or not, hilarious). I have to think that this is possibly THE only place to read coverage on this event in English? It doesn’t look (from here) like a particularly large show, and I don’t think I see anybody writing much about Koenji aside from you guys. As always, very glad you’re out there covering everything for us!

    Also that condensation skull is just amazing.

  2. Samuel says:

    @ Andrew,

    Thanks for getting in touch, actually this has nothing to do with the last Skull Show, but it attracted the same crowd of designers and fans.

    On the West Tokyo point, it just so happens that is the gathering point for this kind of culture right now, it always used to be East Tokyo and around Ueno, but things change.

    I will try and stay on the case as regards silver and underground fashion, there is not much I would rather do!

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