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Roberto Mollá: Tamatori

Artist Roberto Mollá's new work explores the famous Japanese myth of a princess' underwater adventure

by Josh Rubin in Culture on 02 March 2010

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Spanish artist Roberto Mollá's latest work, a series of 15 compositions taking up the famous Japanese tale of pearl diver Princess Tamatori (showing at the upcoming Pulse art fair in NYC), puts the artist in the well-populated ranks of other cultural interpreters of the story. Compared to Hokusai's explicit illustration of the fabled sexual encounter between girl and octopus and more recent examples in manga, film and pornography, however, Mollá's surreal vision makes for a more restrained telling.

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In fact, it was Mollá's minimalist graphic style—mixing geometric shapes, delicately realistic pencil renderings, and a sparing use of color—that first caught our eye at the Fountain exhibition in Miami last January. While the work we saw then took up Japanese themes too, these new pieces see the 44-year-old punctuating his grayscale palette with gold instead of red.

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A futuristic tenor, reinforced by Mollá's use of cream-colored graph paper as a medium and vector-based imagery, nicely plays off the artist's highly-detailed depictions of sea creatures, like mollusks festooned with tentacles and beautifully scaly Koi fish.

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Inspired by artists such as Dadaist Francis Picabia, Italian Futurists and Russian Suprematist El Lissitzky, Moll#225;'s uses the influence of these art movements to come up with his fresh and personalized style.

Be sure to check out "Tamatori" at Christina Ray Gallery's (formally GlowLab) booth at Pulse New York, 4-7 March 2010.

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