From December 8th - December 19th 2021, EXCALIBUR, a collective of artists based in Tokyo, presented their first exhibition in Paris.
In contrast to the renowned Japanese neo-pop movement, which was born from anime and manga culture and led by Takashi Murakami, EXCALIBUR, the next generation, uses video games as a source of inspiration and Japanese mythology and culture as a motif. We like to call it "post-neo-pop."
EXCALIBUR's pixel art is strongly influenced by the graphic appearance of Nintendo in the 1980s and by the golden age of video games. As a base, they use the same 8bit pixel as the video games of that time giving its work a strong sense of nostalgia. Simultaneously EXCALIBUR emphasizes the advanced technology of our modern times.
IN 2007 YOSHINORI TANAKA FOUNDED EXCALIBUR: AN (IMAGINARY) ARTIST COLLECTIVE.
EXCALIBUR COMES FROM
1. FINAL FANTASY THE STRONGEST WEAPON ONE CAN GET AND A WEAPON EVERYONE CAN SHARE.
2. EXCALIBUR IS ALSO THE SWORD OF KING ARTHUR MAKING IT AN INTERNATIONAL TERM AND ONE PEOPLE FROM VARIOUS NATIONALITIES CAN RELATE TO.
-Statement from the Artist-
The exhibition “NEW GAME+” covers two floors. The ground floor shows mainly new work and is called: “Great Reset”, something that came to us before the Corona disaster.
The basement is titled "Dungeon of Memories" where we show our sources of inspiration. Presenting these two different floors, NEW GAME+ is an exhibition one can enjoy as if playing a game, while getting to know our world.
NEW GAME+ shows us the new normal within the coronavirus crisis, and suggests how we will travel through this stage. Strangely enough, the series of NEW GAME+ came to life just before coronavirus broke out.
When life, from a micro and macro point of view, intersects, it creates great awareness. It questions, what is a bug and what is normal? NEW GAME+ means taking over the status of the completed game and replaying it. When we reconsider the new normal today and the future as players, we can make better decisions in the real world.
Let's start a "NEW (NORMAL) GAME" as many times as we can. We have to continue our story.
NEW GAME+ series
The (sub) culture and mythology of Japan are a great motif for the works of EXCALIBUR. So are recent and ancient historical happenings.
Besides, they take great interest in the gap between 'Virtual' and 'Reality'. EXCALIBUR strongly believes the field in between these two is an ever-closing one. With their art they explore the exciting possibilities. Creating a work based on a past event, it feels as if the moment becomes more real. To them, the distance between an historical event and oneself is similar to the distance between a screen and oneself. Here, the (often 8bit) pixel serves as the door between real and virtual.
Take your time to explore these massive, dazzling beauties and discover a part of Japans history and modern worldy issues presented by the equaly bedazzling minds of EXCALIBUR.
Find associations and icons such as Hachiko; a story written in emoji; references to the works of Mishima Yukio and Michelangelo and Tokyo's modern architecture pixellized and wrapped up in the digital trends and philosophical conversations.
About the colour purple
"...purple was considered to be an imperial and sacred color in ancient Japan. But the time has changed, and a new culture has emerged, a visual one, based on neon colours, of which purple is one of the main colours of the neon palette.
Back in the days of the 8-bit PC games, only 16 colours could be used on one screen. I followed that rule and I only work with 16 colours or less. Among those 16 colours, purple is the base.
Games require rules and as an artist using video games as a reference I enjoy making rules for my art works as if I am playing a game."
The making of EXCALIBUR pixel art
The UKIYO.E series can be seen as an hommage to Hiroshige Utagawa's Edo "One Hundred scenes of Edo" series. EXCALIBUR created a modern version of ukiyo-e with scenes from Tokyo today.
These are limited edition prints of 8. Pigmented ink on silver paper.
Dungeon of MemoriesMirror balls
Yoshinori Tanaka has been into computers from an early age. He is a big fan of PC and its composants. In 2006, he reproduced in painting the desktop image of the first Windows XP (ref: XP, 2006) and quickly became interested in keyboards as a material for creating objects. As a VJ (video jockey) Yoshinori was part of the Tokyo subculture at the time. Today, the mirror ball became a very symbolic and important element in his work.
The keyboards used for this series of mirror balls and lamps coming from a Japanese PC manufacturer. The parts are increasing to become rare. The patterns that we discover on the surface are almost like hidden messages from the artist.
"I was introduced to art by playing video games. While playing Final Fantasy I realized that what I played was in fact art. Watching this animated world of Amano Yoshitaka come to life on screen, I became aware of the possibilities."
SHAPED PIXEL series
This new series created by EXCALIBUR for their first Paris exhibition is called SHAPED PIXEL. In these works we see the will of the artist to go beyond the classical framework (square or rectangular) and to create works in an original form with pixels.
For the first series, EXCALIBUR use the Emoji, a symbol originated from Japan and known all over the world. Beside, they are using other symbols known from the world of video games, which represent an increase to a higher level or life.
Excaliburtaicho lemon kawatare ⇔ kimen, (feat. YAMA), 2021 ABS plastic
7 x 14 x 7 cm
Edition of 8
[YT] "What interests me about NFT is authenticity. It guarantees the original by associating the original digital data with the proof of authenticity, but it is only when one NFT is associated with one data. At that time, the only thing that is confirmed is "time," and I think this is the act of setting the "hometown" of the digital data.
By registering Ethereum as the birthplace of the soul of digital data, it is possible to think of the whereabouts of the soul of digital data 1000 years later."
The Story of EXCALIBUR (Part II)DIGITAL ART TO CRYPTO ART January 19, 2022
EXCALIBUR, a collective of pixel artists, applies various rules and gimmicks such as color use, numbers, and motifs to their art. The same can be said for the presentation of their work. With the birth of digital art and digital technology overall spreading, we don’t find many artists who switch as freely between virtual and physical art as EXCALIBUR. Let alone do so much in depth research on the technical spectrum of both the fields
We talked to Yoshinori Tanaka, the founder of EXCALIBUR, about crypto art, NFT, and the booming digital art world... READ MORE