Mr.: The Devil in His Blood and the Stars in Their Eyes

The artist who goes by the alias Mr. has returned to Hong Kong to exhibit a selection of works that span over a six year period titled: People misunderstand me and the contents of my paintings. They just think they are nostalgic, cute and look like Japanese anime. That may be true but really I paint daily in order to escape the devil that haunts my soul. The said devil also resides in my blood, and I cannot escape from it no matter how I wish. So I paint in resignation.

Since his career as an artist has always focused on anime and manga as his chosen form of expression, he has drawn both acclaim for bringing ‘low-brow’ to ‘high art’ and criticism for the often perverse portrayal of his childlike subjects. Despite the overtly dark assertion of his internal conflicts when it comes to his penchant for young girls he reveals a seemingly sincere look in to his consciousness and there is a profound sense of an artist who is deeply conflicted.

From a distance, the cute bobble-headed characters seem innocent enough but it belies the deeper meaning of his expression. Through his juxtaposition of using grimy, distressed canvases as a backdrop it suggests an undertone that represents his subconscious; seemingly random thoughts and phrases, which if analysed, would certainly have drawn on Freudian interpretations.

While it may be hard to discern at first glance what differentiates the more recent pieces in terms of theme and technique, his so-called ‘resignation’ of his inner demons seems to carry with it a more balanced perspective. He has never shied away from speaking of his obsession with Otaku and his “Lolita Complex” nor is it news that he was deeply affected by family traumas as a child.

The adamant reinforcement of his tortured mind - as clearly stated in the title of the show - brings a weight to his work that forces the viewer to see beyond the colourful, adorable imagery and appreciate how far Mr. has grown in battling “the devil (who) also resides” in his blood. No longer do we see the highly eroticized imagery of schoolgirls playing with their male genitalia but rather these bright eyes figures seem to be mascots for a more hopeful future. Perhaps, in his resignation he has found a way to neutralize his demons through his more recent portrayals as he unapologetically embraces his true self.

Exhibition runs Sept. 14th – Oct. 20th Perrotin | No. 50 Connaught Road, Central | 3758 2180 | www.perrotin.com