Join us for the opening reception on Friday, September 13th at 9 PM EST at the Arsham/Fieg Gallery in Kith Soho.
Noguchi’s work references sources as disparate as medieval Japan, Renaissance Europe, graffiti, consumerism, luxury and contemporary culture. The samurai class resided at the top of medieval Japanese society and they were the de-facto rulers of the island nation. Their hairstyles, clothing, armor and accessories reflected this elite status and it was only the samurai who were allowed to wear the now famous daishō – the pair of short and long swords including their legendary katana. It is often said that the sword was the soul of the samurai. It can be further said that their armor represented the personality of the samurai. Often made of the finest imported fabrics and luxury materials such as embossed leather, lacquer and iron, the samurai’s armor employed design, engineering and craftsmanship that seem somehow modern, even to this day. An important aspect of the samurai’s armor was the kamon or mon, which was the heraldic symbol of the clan or family to which he belonged.
In his work, Noguchi has employed such emblems of contemporary culture as briefcases (the samurai as salary-man); headphones (hip-hop samurai); and in his first work which brought him international renown, the Chanel logo. In a recent work that served to be the prototype of the exhibition at Kith, Noguchi outfitted one of his samurai in a pair of Pharrell Williams’ adidas NMDs in a tribute to the singer/songwriter’s role as a fashion icon in contemporary culture.
This is Not a Samurai: The Uncanny World of Tetsuya Noguchi imagines the samurai in today’s world, wearing some of fashion’s most iconic signifiers, symbols and logos – like the kamon of their sartorial clan. Since the samurai were the most fashionable members of Japanese society, a samurai today would undoubtedly be decked out in streetwear and the latest kicks - and would likely be a KITH customer. Culture vulture, sneakerhead and hypebeast, Noguchi’s samurai are warriors of the fashion set. Yet, even though these samurai may be victims of fashion, Noguchi’s real message is ultimately one of beauty and optimism as his samurai gaze to the future with innocence and hope.
For more information on the pieces on exhibit, please email Arsham/Fieg Gallery here