The Angst of Youth in Contemporary Art Practice

By Julie Rees.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The resurgence of the theme ‘teenage angst’ has become increasingly popular among contemporary artists, universally depicting aspects of alienation, loneliness, depression and even unrequited love. This paper will argue that Japanese manga and anime has become a major influencing factor in both Western and Eastern contemporary art practice as it bridges the gap between reality and fantasy. Arguably, this interface underlines how popular cultural imagery of the East, particularly Japan, has impacted upon both Eastern and Western artists worldwide. Masami Toku argues that Japanese manga allies’ youth’s identity construction with popular culture by creating an underlying narrative based on the interplay between fictional characters fantasising about their aspirations and desires, and echoing adolescent social rites of passage. My paper will reference and critically analyse the work of American artist Charlie White,Chinese artists Cao Fei and Chen Ke, and Japanese artist Aya Takano. It will show how, by adopting and reinterpreting this distinctive Japanese aesthetic, the artists create a reality that functions as a means of escape from socio-economic restraints while, at the same time, exploring other adult narratives in their work. It will highlight how childlike pictorial qualities provide an avenue for darker adult tropes to be investigated in a format more easily accepted by society.

Keywords: Contemporary Art Practice, The Influence of Japanese Manga and Anime, Youth Culture, Reality and Fantasy

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp.9-20. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.943MB).

Dr. Julie Rees

QCA Postgraduate Studies, Doctoral Student, Faculty Arts, Education and Law , Fine Art, Postgraduate Studies, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, Fortitude Valley, Queensland, Australia

Born in Victoria Australia but now based in Brisbane, Queensland. I am currently completing a Doctorate in Visual Arts at Queensland College of Art, Griffith University. My research focus is on Western and Eastern contemporary artists, incorporating aesthetics from popular culture. My art practice involves a combination of drawing, photography, animation, print making techniques and 3D modelling.


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