Born 1936 in Nishiwaki, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Lives and works in Tokyo.

Photographic portrait of Tadanori Yokoo, 1970

Tadanori Yokoo, 1970
Courtesy the artist
Photo: Kouji Yasukouchi

Tadanori Yokoo is one of Japan’s most well-known artists, who began working with painting in 1966. In parallel, Yokoo’s early screenprints combined photographs with the influence of traditional Japanese ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) and pop art’s flat colours and overtly sexual content. Awarded the Grand Prize for Prints at the 6th Paris Youth Biennale in 1969, Yokoo experimented with collage and illustration, re-appropriating found photographs and images, which reflected on the rapid changes and Westernisation of Japan post-war society. His work became influenced by mysticism following his trip to India in the 1970s, resulting in posters with eclectic imagery sharing the aesthetics of the underground psychedelic magazines of the time.

Tadanori Yokoo’s animation KISS KISS KISS 1964 uses the pop art strategy of appropriating comic-book images of kissing couples complete with speech bubbles spelling ‘kiss’. The work starts off with the soundtrack of Dean Martin’s popular song ‘Kiss’, changing moments later to the otherworldly sounds of a theremin, suggesting the emergence of a darker side to the kissing couple’s bliss. As the animation progresses, the images are manipulated through hand colouring, rhythm, rotation and the effect of ripped paper, speeding up only to once again end with Martin’s song.

Lina Džuverović
September 2015