Art, Book, Greenspace June 6, 2011 By Jordan Sayle

g 17 A Garden Grows in Japang title1 A Garden Grows in Japan

The Japanese comics known as manga can be repurposed in any number of ways. From Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s emotive everyday characters to Naoko Takeuchi’s “magical girl” super-heroines, there is seemingly endless variety in the current offerings of the country’s illustrated tradition. Rarely, though, does the form break so completely from the conventions of plot, structure, and characterization as in the work of Yuichi Yokoyama. Instead, the celebrated artist tends to focus on form itself.
     In the brand new English translation of his latest graphic novel Garden, published by PictureBox, Yokoyama constructs a fantasyland of geometric shapes and mechanized systems that bring to mind what might result if a Conceptual sculptor in the mold of Claes Oldenburg was hired to design a children’s playscape. Yokoyama’s garden abandons shrubs and flowers in favor of materials evoking modern industries. He fills the pages with disassembled airplanes and stacks of boats; conical mountains of paper and buildings made from cloth.
     Odd it may be, but what the artist seems to be drawing on these pages is an equivalence between the products of nature that would occupy a more Edenic garden and the machines that have come to inform contemporary living. It’s a connection both in design and mystique. Specimens from either group can appear to operate independently, managed by interior forces which make them all the more remarkable to those lacking knowledge of their inner workings.

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