September 9–October 28, 2023
[En anglais] Before attending the opening of The Birth of Myth, Lomex’s exhibition of works vintage and new by Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano, I wondered what the crowd would be like. Amano achieved fame as an illustrator for media franchises such as Gatchaman, The Adventures of Hutch the Honeybee, and Vampire Hunter D, but outside of Japan he is probably best known for his work on Square Enix’s series of video games Final Fantasy, the first entry of which launched in 1987 and the sixteenth earlier this summer. I guessed that many of the other attendees at the opening would have encountered Amano’s work as I had: on fan websites, message boards, and gaming magazines and strategy guides. Skewing a little younger and a little more online, the crowd met my expectations—and perhaps Lomex’s too. Offering no accompanying text and an unusually brief press release, the gallery seems to be saying, We know why you’re here.
Last spring’s survey of H. R. Giger’s work announced Lomex’s investment in underscoring the extraordinary influence that artists who are beloved beyond gallery or museum walls have had on contemporary visual cultures. The Birth of Myth continues this conversation, offering a tribute to Amano and exhibiting the legendary artist in New York City for the first time in two decades. On display are a series of grand new oil paintings depicting scenes that flicker as if on the edges of a half-remembered dream. Centaurs, warriors, dragons, unicorns, monsters, goddesses, and other fantastic beings swirl through these works. We encounter unfolding dramas that call to mind mythological universes both familiar and unknown. In one painting, an electric blue warrior confronts two shadowy figures who resemble Final Fantasy IV’s dark knight protagonist, Cecil Harvey, yet these entities could just as easily belong to other fantasies. The glacial colour palette of these paintings, tending towards soft blues, greys, and yellows balanced by brilliant saturation, enshrouds these works in mist. Amano appears to prefer a thinner application of his oil paint, and as a result his works shimmer with a liquid dynamism that recalls the watercolours he is better known for.