On Pokémon Day earlier this year, a very quiet announcement involving American artist Daniel Arsham was made. The announcement, made by Shibuya’s Nanzuka Underground gallery, led to April’s release of a collaboration with Uniqlo’s UT graphic t-shirt line. This collaboration was the first public showing of Arsham’s “Relics of Kanto Through Time” art project based on the iconic Japanese monster collecting & battling franchise. Now, a few months later, Nanzuka Underground is hosting a full gallery show featuring a range of pieces featuring iconic characters & imagery from the original Red/Blue/Green Pokémon games.
The concept of the “Relics of Kanto Through Time” collection is as simple as the actual pieces are complex. Arsham has created statues and other unique pieces that carry wear & decay that implies fossilization over a period of 1000 years. The idea being that these effigies might be what the future archeologists of Kanto would find in a dig occurring in the year 3020. His use of materials like pyrite, volcanic ash, obsidian, and glass give his works the look of an authentic relic that has crystalized & fossilized over a long period of time. This concept of “fictional archeology” is a recurring theme in his works, transforming modern-day iconic objects into imaginary artifacts.
The “Relics of Kanto Through Time” project marks The Pokémon Company’s first foray into the world of contemporary art and definitely kicks things off with a bang. The gallery itself is open in Shibuya only a few minutes walk from the station at Nanzuka Underground until July 4th, 2020. Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 pandemic visitation is by appointment only, limited to 20 people per half hour. The gallery itself is free to enter, so if you happen to be in the area I highly recommend going to check it out.
If you’ve been following our news you’ll know that I’ve been a rather vocal fan of influential artists & designers working with the Pokémon brand to create products & art that lean towards current trends in art and streetwear. So when Nanzuka Underground announced the dates for this gallery I immediately made plans to check it out. Daniel Arsham has developed a unique thematic style with brilliant execution, and the pieces in this collection all came together incredibly well. With any luck, this is only the beginning and hopefully, the gallery will travel around the world so everyone can have a chance to see these sculptures in person because no amount of photos could ever do them justice.