Are you familiar with an artist named Masagon? Unafraid of exploring different materials, textures, and approaches, Masagon’s revolutionary work is featured in art galleries and magazines worldwide.
But at its core, his street-inspired art is deeply human and approachable. How did Masagon take his vision from hip neighborhoods to the high-end art world?
Read on to learn more about this intriguing artist.
Let’s dive in!
Masagon is an artist based in Osaka, Japan, who’s been creating art for more than 20 years. His aesthetic brings to mind the color and in-your-face attitude of street art, which is certainly one of his many styles.
One writer for the blog Tokyo Scum Brigade describes him as “Ame-Mura personified.” A glance at his work shows that Masagon embodies the youthful energy of Ame-Mura, a celebrated art, and fashion district in Osaka.
This artist takes inspiration from his fast-paced urban environment. “I lately like occupying space with the geometric fragments taken from popular culture, daily life, or anything I see,” he says in a 2015 interview on Jealous.com.
Taking note of these fragments is the secret to his process. Masagon takes those small pieces and brings them together to create innovative reimaginings of his world.
What Is Masagon’s Art Style?
Masagon’s art doesn’t necessarily fit neatly into one category. Although his work qualifies as pop art, his street art sensibility gives his pieces a punk rock edge. His extensive experience in different mediums also makes him tricky to pin down. In his interview with Tokyo Scum Brigade, Masagon self-identifies as a graffiti artist.
He often works in conventional mediums like painting and sculpture. Some of his most recent Instagram posts feature bright, geometrical shapes on canvas and three-dimensional mixed-media objects. But he also creates embroidered art, large-scale public murals, and even designs art for skateboard decks.
Masagon also produces original clothing pieces. Another glance at his Instagram feed reveals a series of bucket hats and long-sleeved tees printed with his work. The artist also drastically alters existing clothing items, painting vivid displays on jackets and attaching plastic toys, rubber erasers, and other adornments.
What Are Some of Masagon’s Art Pieces?
Looking at Masagon’s art feels like being a kid in a candy store. There’s so much to admire and analyze that it’s hard to pick a favorite! Let’s check out a small sampling of his work.
Mint is one of Masagon’s acrylic paintings. This painting depicts a smiling creature with a pink face and a blue nose surrounded by geometric shapes. A bright red and yellow zig-zag travels horizontally across the face, cutting the canvas in half.
Mint is part of a series of similar faces. Many pieces in the series, including this one, resemble Japanese traffic signs in their shape, design, and overall composition. True to the rebellious nature of Masagon’s work, Mint feels like a witty take on an everyday object.
Zigzag features bold lines in bright hues of blue and yellow. Although the painting seems simple on the surface, the contrasting colors create a fascinating optical illusion. Looking at the zigzag for longer than a few moments makes it hard to tell which portions of the shape are in the background and foreground.
Zigzag invites Masagon’s audience to question what they’re seeing. After all, with multiple ways for our eyes to process these shapes, how does each interpretation affect the painting’s meaning?
Masagon’s Untitled Face is a portrait full of psychedelic patterns and colors. This painting uses an unexpected combination of primary colors and pinks to draw the eye slowly around the canvas. His use of optical illusion is especially noticeable in the figure’s kaleidoscopic eyes.
There’s a lot of detail in Untitled Face’s hair and eyes, while the face and facial features are simple and flat. These aesthetic choices combine to create a truly groovy portrait.
Crushed Can Series
The Crushed Can Series is one example of Masagon’s massive portfolio of mixed-media work. The artist paints directly onto regular soda cans before crushing them with his hand. Some cans include his signature cartoonish faces, while others only feature patterns. It’s fascinating to see how the crushing process changes the overall appearance of each face or design.
Branching into additional mediums, Masagon also created embroidered versions of the crushed cans! These cloth cans were sewn onto used sweatshirts, and some featured a real metal can tab.
Where Can I See Masagon’s Art?
If you don’t live near Osaka, don’t worry. Masagon’s art is readily available online.
The artist’s Instagram account, @hellomasagon, is likely the best place to keep up with his projects. Masagon posts frequently, sharing finished works as well as works in progress. You can also see quite a bit of his work on his website at Masagon.net.
You can frequently find Masagon’s work in the wild, too. A writer for the blog Osaka Metro Nine recently took a self-guided tour of Osakan street art and posted a great photo of one of Masagon’s large-scale street murals.
We’re Celebrating Masagon
Masagon’s art is truly for everyone. It isn’t every day that an artist’s work can feel at home both in a gallery and on the side of a busy city street, or a soda can for that matter. This artist’s provocative style and keen eye are unique and worth celebrating.
What’s your favorite piece by Masagon? Is it one of his paintings or one of his art objects? Tell us in the comments!
Outside Folk Gallery
You can explore more folk, street, and outsider art in our personal collection at Outside Folk Art. We’re celebrating these creatives and giving voice to rising black, Native, immigrant, and working mother artisans.
We’ll also be offering pop-up shows and collaborations with small museums, so be sure to follow us to discover the where and when!