A debut collection of pen-and-ink drawings of Japan that blend reality and the artist’s imagination.
Muzacz, an American artist and a resident of Japan, compiles the results of his effort to complete one ballpoint-pen drawing each day for an entire year, starting in January 2011. The devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011 are the focus of many images, as is the Occupy movement that developed later in the year. The author arranges his drawings by theme—people, architecture, fashion, animals and so on—and provides captions or longer descriptions in both English and Japanese. Drawings of the natural world dominate the book’s early pages, and later illustrations mostly depict people and man-made environments. A section on graffiti reflects the author’s early days as a street artist, but the collection embraces a wide variety of styles, including explicit emulations of noted artists throughout Japanese history. The captions suggest that some drawings are based on photographs, while others are apparently drawn from life. Some images, particularly those depicting mythological creatures or surfing fish, are evidently drawn from the author’s imagination. Many of these pleasing drawings feel timeless; readers will be left wondering if a bucolic temple image was taken from a 19th-century photograph or if there are tourists just outside the frame taking pictures on their iPhones. The book’s final section collects thumbnail versions of all 365 images, presented in the order in which they were originally drawn. Overall, this is a comprehensive view of Japan, past and present, as seen through the eyes of a young artist with an eye for beauty in all its forms.
An attractive visual introduction to Japan.