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Wednesday, December 30, 2009


All Pictures from Mican Doll Website

Are you still wondering if Tokyo is the factory of the most inventive, craziest, weirdest, surprising artists from our times? You should have no doubt about it. France has a quite long past with ball jointed dolls (the technique has been patented in France by Brouillet-Cacheleux in 1856, Hans Bellmer immigrated to France after Hitler came to power in Germany) but while we were kind of forgetting this art, Japan renewed it pushing out its limits. A lot of the ball jointed dolls I saw in Tokyo were quite annoying and even kind of pervert. A lot of dolls represent children bodies and they are often showed naked. And it’s a fact, ball jointed doll art is related to erotic art ; Bellmer’s doll La Poupée was created to stimulate desire, Kaoru Mori’s dolls have been exhibited in Paris Erotic Museum in 2008...

Nevertheless, some artists took the art to an upper ground, involving much of their personality, dreams, nightmares and troubles also maybe, to create wonderful pieces of art. I had the chance this summer, with my collaborator Alexandre Martinazzo, to visit Pygmalion Doll Space, the most famous school in Japan to learn about ball jointed doll techniques, observing students working on their creatures, shaping legs, bodies, heads, under the severe look of their teacher, Ryo Yoshida, that was in his time a master in that art. And that’s where I had the chance to know more about Mican (I had previously met Mican at Pepper's Gallery in February 2008 for her group exhibition “Do androids dream?V “ after I discovered her work by chance in summer 2007).

Mican - that means, depending on the Japanese readings mandarins (蜜柑) or unfinished (未完) – is one of the doll artists to remember. But if Mican still has the grade of student because she keeps on learning and perfecting her techniques at Pygmalion, her art is far from student looking work. Mican only started studying ball jointed doll art in 2006 and first exhibited in May 2007 at Design Festa. As she learnt 3D art and as she has a taste from drawings, these two combined talents probably helped her in conceiving her dolls and taking them to an average level.

Within 4 years, Mican already created 13 dolls and sculptures, which is something remarkable when you know that a doll can take up to six months to be achieved and probably also understanding that creating such personal looking work can empty an artist. The probably most impressive dolls are the High School Girl, the Dream of the Alien, and Transience. These creations show uncommon sizes for dolls, between 134cm to 147cm. More than simply beautiful dolls, Mican is showing us a world of dream and reflection around themes like evil, death, eternity, … But her work is also inspired by historical facts (Gratia 1563-1600), Japanese culture (Zen disciple in training and a ghost) and personal stories (a thousand winds).

Mican now records 12 exhibitions in reputed spaces like the Tokyu Bunkamura Gallery or Geisai Museum where her work in 2008 has been ranked on the 12th place upon 606 artists. Eyes should be definitely turned on that fabulous artist.

Articles about artists and illustrators on this blog here.
Virginie Ropars, a French doll artist (not ball jointed doll) to also check.

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