by Kelly Wetherille

Italian fashion brand Diesel is blurring the lines between fashion and art with concept stores in Tokyo and New York called Diesel Denim Gallery. In addition to stocking the brand’s most prestigious collection of the same name, the store also includes a gallery space where it hosts exhibitions by artists from around the world. Through April 11 local batik artist Natsuki Otake is showing a selection of her colorful, manga-esque paintings, and the store is also selling limited-edition t-shirts printed with her designs.

Otake earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in textile design from Tama Art University, where she studied various traditional Japanese dyeing techniques. “I enjoyed batik the most, which is why I continued to do it, and now I’m in my sixth year of doing batik,” the artist said at the opening party of the exhibition on February 9.

But Otake’s designs aren’t your typical Japanese batiks. While she utilizes many of the same colors one might see in the floral prints of kimono and yukata, her motifs are inspired by Japanese ‘idols,’ or young pop culture celebrities. Since childhood Otake has been fascinated by idols’ sparkling eyes, as well as those of female manga characters. At first this manifested itself in an obsession with glittery pens and stickers, but Otake found her niche when she discovered the technique of making brightly colored silk paintings.

In addition to her usual 2D batik artworks done on kimono silks, for this exhibition Otake experimented with 3D sculptures made from the same fabrics. “I want to move away from 2D and do more 3D installations,” she said.

The exhibition also marks the first time that Otake has worked with silkscreen. She made just one design for the t-shirts, which are on sale for ¥6,090 each, but she hopes this will be the first of many forays into the fashion world. “I want to try making some more original patterns [for clothing], and I’d also like to do textile fashion exhibitions,” she said. Since her psychedelic designs lend themselves so easily to clothing, it’s likely the fashion world will be seeing more of her.

More Information

Title: Affection of idols
Artists: Natsuki Otake
Curator: Shinya Furui / gallery POINT
Date: 2010.2.10 (WED) 〜 2010.4.11 (SUN)
Address: 6-3-3 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 81-3-6418-5323
Hours: 13:00〜20:00 Holidays: Non-regular holiday