mograg gallery Presents “Japanese Lowbrow Art”

“mograg garage” started in 2008 from the renovated garage of our house in Kokubunji. Since then, at this special space —“garage” as the middle ground of street and gallery— we have held exhibitions of artists who we think to be interesting without holding onto any particular genre.

Many different personalities and values coincided at this garage to give birth to new projects and ideas, which we have been delivering through exhibitions, events, publications, and Podcast streaming. At the root of everything we have done, we have always kept the basic philosophy of “enjoying art as one of the fun things to do.”

Now, mograg is opening “mograg gallery.” With the basic philosophy that we have cultivated for 6 years in our garage, we are presenting a new direction of “Japanese Lowbrow Art” as one of the art’s variations.

What is Lowbrow Art?

Even with different historical and cultural backgrounds, Lowbrow Art in the U.S. West Cost and underground art movements in Europe have all sprang from the rim, or the “Sub” of the mainstream art called “High Art.” Lowbrow Art distances itself from the money game among the affluent population and the art world, which has turned itself into a mere concept game. Lowbrow Art takes messy and populist means of expression such as painting, drawing, comic, animation, collage, tattoo, music, graffiti, publication, and toy figure. Through these means, Lowbrow artists express the outburst of their inner self and freak images into the artworks with humor and design, or characters. These artworks have evolved continuously through independent galleries and medias, which have been passionately supported by art fans and collectors.

Japanese Lowbrow Art

Such explanation of Lowbrow Art might give the impression that the path Lowbrow Art took from its birth to today is very similar to the characteristics of the so-called Otaku culture surrounding Manga and Anime in Japan. However, the situation is even more twisted in Japan. After the WWII, Otaku culture, which is supposed to be the “Sub,” has developed immensely surpassing Western High Art both in quality and volume. Today, Otaku culture is what forms Japanese mainstream culture.

Therefore, especially in the case of pictorial art, the reality of Japanese art world is that there are two cores—one being High Art as the world’s mainstream valuing historical contexts, and other being Otaku culture as Japanese mainstream expanding globally.

In such situation, we find ourselves surrounded by the artists expressing “the Third Sub” who have been exposed to many subcultures from their childhood to develop their own style without belonging to either the Western High Art or Japanese Otaku culture.

We define these artists including all styles of expression as “Japanese Lowbrow Artsits” with much respect, and we have decided to run our gallery specialized in their artworks.

Also, the fact that we are sharing the gallery space with “AAT”—the art product line of the style shop Aquvii presenting original accessories and products with vintage oddities—points to the direction where we are headed. We as mograg gallery is going to catch the “art” arising from the borderlines and rims where various expressions and values are mixed together, and expand it in many different shapes and forms.

To all the art fans, with humor and laughs, we are going to deliver art that we feel to be interesting and the fun around it from “mograg gallery”!