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Graffiti Japan Hardcover – September 28, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Based in Tokyo, award-winning filmmaker and photographer Remo Camerota has been revealing aspects of Japanese visual subcultures, from graffiti to manhole covers, for years. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Mark Batty Publisher (September 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979048672
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979048678
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 0.7 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,247,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
When I was teaching high school in the Los Angeles area in the early 1990s the subject of graffiti was contentious. People on the right saw it as defacing public and private property and promoting illegal lifestyles. Those on the left tended to be more tolerant. I had some taggers in my classroom, one of whom was very talented. I had him to do a magazine style report on "writing." It was very good. But I was advised by a colleague not to "reward" such behavior. I found it interesting that KRESS in his introduction states that he began writing "around 1994 and was influenced by the graffiti in Los Angeles."

It seemed to me at first that "bombing" was just marking territory such as when a tiger sprays his domain. And perhaps that was the case. But today many of the taggers are artists, and some are not only very talented, but hardworking and creative. Remo Camerota, who is originally from Australia, took thousands of photos of graffiti in some of the major cities of Japan while befriending and working with local artists. The result is this beautiful compilation.

I had to use a magnifying glass on some of the artwork. There is a lot of intricate detail in Japanese graffiti and a clear emphasis on color. I liked the flow and the movement of the writing. The style is bold and expressive with hints of something underlying and secret. Remo says that he would not have been able to find a lot of the graffiti without the help of the writers who showed him their hidden places.

The way the book is put together with interviews with the various writers along with glossy photos of their work brings to life not only the world of the writing "crews" but of modern Japan itself. Each city has its own scene and style according to KRESS.
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Format: Paperback
This is a review of the softbound edition which differs slightly from the hardbound in the end cover artwork which, in this edition, is comprised of a couple of gate-fold leaves. The format is slightly different but I suspect that all of the artwork is included in either edition.

When I stumbled upon this book I thought I had made a thrilling discovery as a casual glance through this roughly 10 x 8.5 inch book in approx. 143 pps. makes it clear the author knows how to take a picture, and also that the publishers have done their job of reproduction well; surprising for a book printed in China (a closer look at the paper and reproductions confirms the quality is not great, but is above average; atypical for made in china).

As to the featured graffiti: As good as anything anywhere, one suspects, and some sublime.

An issue with the book not entirely the fault of the author is a dearth of text and textual analysis. Doubtless, a language barrier issue looms large here. One does wish the author had developed a more encompassing dialogue or explication of the topic by more and varied questioning of his showcased artists.

While he does ask questions of a number of the featured artists the questions and answers are not fully developed.

The idea of a Japanese identity is and has been a central theme in Japan's intellectual history. A discussion of Takashi Murakami's Super-Flat manifesto, which is a continuation of this long discussion, and speculating on how it may intertwine with Japanese Grafitti art could have been fascinating even if described very simply.
For instance an absolutely brilliant work found on pps. 16-17 IS a byobu or gold leaf screen, the most famous of which help to define the Japanese identity.
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Format: Hardcover
GRAFFITI JAPAN is another fine book on contemporary art and design from Mark Batty Publisher. As with all of their books this volume addresses art in a specific place and assures the reader/viewer that the cultural background of that location is woven throughout this richly illustrated volume to add to the pleasure of encountering fresh art forms as a meaningful experience.

Remo Camerota, an artist and photographer, traveled to Japan, not knowing the language but with a desire to study and understand what makes Japanese graffiti unique. In a vivid introduction he paints the scene for his visit and after his preface he turns to one of the graffiti artists (KRESS) to open the path for examining Japanese graffiti. Fifteen graffiti artists are presented in full-color reproductions of their art and the variations among these artists' works are gradually identifiable through the superb photographs, most of them by the author and investigator Camerota. As each artist is reviewed a conversation with Camerota is presented and this writing is both sensitive and humorous, and always shaped by the honest convictions of each artist's intent. The book then approaches the graffiti as it differs among four cities - Hiroshima, Osaka, Kanagawa and Tokyo.

That is the background description for this book. But the importance of the volume lies in the fully saturated illustrations and design that allows the viewer to appreciate graffiti in a completely new light. The quality of art from these street artists is pristine in execution, highly innovative in design (there is a major influence of one of Japan's own contributions to the art world - anime), and in many ways competes with the huge murals that have long been a part of our universal artistic heritage.
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