Motoko Ishibashi "Wicked City": Hollywood

7 January - 11 February 2023

Sebastian Gladstone is pleased to present “Wicked City,” the first US solo exhibition of London-based Japanese artist Motoko Ishibashi. The exhibition will open on Saturday, January 7th from 6-9pm at the Hollywood gallery, and will run through Saturday, February 11th, 2023. Ishibashi will present new paintings further developing her series of exaggerated female figures, as well as a new series of ceramics made as part of the collaborative duo “Willowfuck” with Robin von Einsiedel. The title for the exhibition comes from the 1987 sci-fi anime film by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, in which erotic–violent–supernatural female characters inhabit an underworld trying to break into the Earth. 


Motoko Ishibashi's paintings are a playful and provocative exploration of the female body and its representation in art historical and cultural contexts. By exaggerating the sexualized and fetishized parts of women’s bodies–breasts, legs, and buttocks–Ishibashi's paintings critique and satirize the traditional objectification of the feminine form in art. In “Wicked City,” the incorporation of contemporary references to anime and internet fan-art further underscores the ways in which men’s desires and perspectives have driven the representation of women’s bodies in contemporary media and culture, as many of the most popular theoretical animated characters are drafted by men.

Gustav Courbet’s “L'Origine du monde,” a painting that presents a cropped figure of female genitalia as a still-life object, serves as a touchstone canonical reference for Ishibashi’s figures. At the time of its creation, the painting was a highly provocative and avant-garde presentation of art moving into the modern– an “intellectual” change of the times. The body becomes an object, and as in Ishibashi’s paintings, once the head and limbs are removed, all that remains is a hypersexualized prop reduced to its visceral attributes. Moreover, in Ishibashi’s figures, the smooth hyperreal rendering of “L'Origine du monde is abandoned; the artist instead opts for the rough styling typically seen on DeviantArt and other online forums of self-taught artists. 

In the ceramics works, the paradigm of the paintings is flipped as the pots resemble fleshy bodies but exist as objects. Many of the forms take from ancient and traditional pottery, but become hyper-contemporary through image transfers of nude women, anime characters, and painted thongs. Some of the ceramics are directly related to the paintings–for example “Sandy Bum,” in which a small-wide pot is glazed to resemble a thong-clad buttocks freshly out of the sand. Others such as “La-lee-la dolly” present a series of vignettes on the surface, combined with a highly suggestive concave opening on the side of the pot. Taken as a whole, the pots and the paintings commingle to embody a grand vision of flesh, fantasy, and a comical eroticism.

Installation Views