Nathan Ota’s adept, surreal artwork takes viewers into a perilous nether world, off-color and off-kilter. And with Nathan Ota: Ikiru, the full overview of the artist’s work, readers can explore the artist’s beginnings as street artist, through illustration, fine art and coming full circle to his collaboration with RISK. He’ll be at La Luz de Jesus Friday, September 13 signing books from 7pm-10pm
Ota’s early influences were comic books, TV cartoons, and punk rock flyers. Raymond Pettibone, Robert Williams, and seductive drawings of Olivia affected him more than classical art, and when he discovered graffiti, he was hooked, writing:
I loved everything about it, the clicking of the ball in the can when shook, the sound of the constant flow of the paint, the scraping of the can against the wall when drawing, the colors, the scale, the friendships and the complete feeling of freedom. Till this day, whenever I smell spray paint in the air, it brings back good times.
While at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design, Ota put down the spray can and focused on his studies. On graduating, he began a career in illustration, which lead to a career creating pieces for newspapers, magazines, recording companies, and developing background art for the gaming industry. And he drew and painted.
Ota’s work features recurring characters and themes. A young man with a wooden block head is central to many of his pieces, while birds and girls in striped hats appear frequently as, the stripes calling to mind both festive party wear and traditional jail house striped uniforms. Tree are stripped of leaves, the landscape is barren and uncertain.
With his art, Ota creates worlds in which his characters navigate their environment and themselves, striving to live and find happiness. With Nathan Ota: Ikiru, we are can not only to follow Ota’s career progression, but engage with each piece of work and follow his characters through his Pop Surreal world as they struggle and celebrate living.